Hailing from France, SicNoise sprung to existence in 2000. The group is comprised of two individuals, Walter Norman (MTC) and Botchan Karisen (Babylone Chaos), and their debut, No Longer Human, was released on the small cd-r label Cut Up Factory in 2002. After a period of inactivity, the duo released their second album, The Double Experience, which was crafted throughout France in the cities of Nice, Dijon, and Paris.
According to the group, “Finding the name of the album seemed obvious, a bit like the creation of SicNoise.” While I can’t rightly say why the title The Double Experience was an obvious choice for the album, I’ll venture a guess and posit that it refers to it being their sophomore release – second, double, you know, that sort of thing. Very clever, guys.
The music on The Double Experience lands at various points on the electronica music spectrum. Techno, Dub, IDM, and a healthy dose of moody ambient sounds, among others, also abound. It’s seemingly apparent from the start of The Double Experience that SicNoise are disciples forever enamored by electronic music of the 1990’s. The album is beat-oriented and seductive in its use of groove, each track cloaked in the heavy aura of futuristic atmosphere (and occasional dark ambience) 90’s electronica was known for.
The pioneering 90’s act The Future Sound of London, who strongly embodied the musical ethos of that time period, among many others, comes to mind here – specifically, their album Dead Cities, which is one of FSOL’s most championed works. Like Dead Cities, SicNoise’s The Double Experience is dominated by energized (but not frenetic) electronic beats and is ripe with evocative atmospheres and populated with all manner of unrecognizable and sprightly sounds that weave their way throughout the album.
Some successful examples of this veneration are wisely displayed at the onset of the album. Opener Flummox v2 and the following track Atomic Peplum (both of which could be titles pilfered from another 90’s heavyweight, Autechre) are strong pieces that feature not only compelling rhythms and moody spirit, but also evoke that particular sort of sleek and dystopian future FSOL’s material often brought to mind. Later on with Exoticall, we see SicNoise at their playful best. As the title infers, the song truly does have an exotic nature to it. Its glitchy rhythmic bleeps creates something akin to an audio alien jungle on some off-world planet and doesn’t sound too far removed from FSOL’s Lifeforms.
While SicNoise isn’t exactly in the same league as FSOL (or any other group from that time period), they do have their own strengths to pull from and aren’t merely an act that exists to hopelessly try to recreate the musical past without pushing forward into their own future. For starters, the album sounds richly modern, but not to the point of it being so slick that it neuters the vibe and overall energy. The songs are big, crisp, and clear. SicNoise also use an eclectic and colorful palette of sounds that range from strange and ambient to natural and futuristic and then groovy and dark. In spite of all that’s going on, the material never feels erratic or in danger of losing focus, which could always be a danger when working on music in various locations over multiple recording sessions.
SicNoise are also quite adept at knowing how to vary the pace by operating within and sticking to a different dominant style for each song. For example, there’s the dark dub of Moon on Mars, the funky techno vibe of Alien Baba, and the hard-hitting, instrumental hip hop of Perfect View. The Double Experience pulls from a large sphere of influence and hones it all down to a concise delivery.
In summation, SicNoise certainly isn’t doing anything that hasn’t been done before. They’re treading well-worn and familiar territory (probably intentionally so) and it’s anybody’s guess as to whether music fans with even a small affinity for 90’s-inspired electronica will harken and gather close, or sense an impostor and move along. Honestly, my own time with the album has been a bit of both, but successive listens have given way to a deeper appreciation and enjoyment of what The Double Experience is all about, so for that alone I recommend giving it some of your own attention and time.
01) Flummox v2
02) Atomic Peplum
04) Moon on Mars
05) Alien Baba
07) Perfect View
09) Remote Listen
10) Mr. Hamilton