Henri de Saussure is good enough to publish his curriculum vitae; he attended the EJMA Jazz School, Geneva University for “Philosophy and the History of Religions,” and is “interested in the phenomenon of sound in each of its aspects, and the ever-shifting boundaries between sound art and music.” All that learning produced Lärmheim (De Saussure’s solo project) and 2015’s Cent Soleils (translation: Hundred Suns). Unfortunately, Lärmheim’s debut album quickly wears out its welcome as a dissertation on breakcore.
You couldn’t really see De Saussure as an individual behind this music until Cent Soleils was issued. In the profile photograph for his Bandcamp page, a panel is moved over another or he is swallowed in black over muted red and greens. On Cent Soleils, De Saussure is dark and bearded with deep-set eyes, flirtatious, descending a staircase in monochrome. Finally, a decent press photo is offered, hinting at an attempt towards more professional territory for the project after previous digital-only releases Prime Numbers and Entoptique.
Lärmheim is, however, but a modest fraction of De Saussure’s career. Cent Soleils is featured below his live and audio-visual work, wherein he is known for playing television commercials on an Octatrack “far from the constraints of 4/4 sequenced beat music.” Clearly, he is bored with simple drumming.
Cent Soleils is a messy deviation from the inherent pretension of IDM. De Saussure defines the style of Lärmheim as “Post-African Repetitions” and describes it with the catchy tagline, “clicks and tones may break my bones.” He also notes that, on the album, he performs utilizing “synths, software, hardware, drum machines, vintage gear and lots of tea”; on Cent Soleils, unfortunately, this humor seems to have been left to the music, but the joke is lost on me. Cent Soleils is BPM maximalism, which can be a great thing in doses, but the listener needs a break occasionally. “Deadeye” briefly prevails when it takes on the stylistic qualities of an IMAX soundtrack with symphonic drones that never linger, snapped apart by harsh belts of noise and percussion just to remind you that there will be beats.
Lärmheim’s gunshot samples straddle chiptune and Call of Duty while tracks like “Werkstatt Cysp” gurgle to life, quietly, sounding liquefied. De Saussure seems to enjoy how tension applies to escalating tones that repeatedly return over the course of any given track. A structureless undulation of drum samples convene and collide in a fray like a rollicking laser beam. What does this percussive maelstrom support, you ask? Piercing bird cries and a jingle. “Werkstatt Cysp” ends suddenly, but I can’t help but feel like the real question is, “should it have begun?”
Cent Soleils’ dalliances from rococo breakbeat to cinematic melodies clash until structure is no more, taking on the character of a soundtrack composed by e-waste shredders wherein Lärmheim becomes music for the tonsured lovers of Aphex Twin and Venetian Snares. Then there is the smattering of songs like “Trommelgraben” and “Faurmanter,” the former of which is concrete, subdued, and minimal while the latter shares a similar march but remains frayed and bucolic. Lärmheim loses its mania, but Cent Soleils is more disjointed and ultimately hampered by ambition.
01) One Second before the Most Blinding Light of All
04) Werkstatt Cysp
08) Video Game Soundtrack
09) Werkstatt Fulx
10) Rumori Danza