I’ve been closely following and covering the works by the French drone duo Saåad pretty much ever since I first started writing for Heathen Harvest. Tape after tape, vinyl after vinyl, their productivity has never diminished their quality. More recently, band members have branched out to collaborations and side acts, including Autrenoir. Saåad’s latest LP releases came out on the In Paradisum record label, run by Paul Régimbeau. Régimbeau is also the man behind Mondkopf and Greg Buffier of Saåad has become a live member of that project. Both men are also part of the French super drone group Foudre! Their collaboration has clearly been a fruitful one, but that didn’t dim my curiosity to find out why these guys needed to come up with another project, and how different it was.
Even though Autrenoir carries vibes from both Mondkopf and Saåad, it still manages to feel quite different. The self-titled debut EP was released on a handmade CDr (now sold out) by Distant Voices, a predominantly black metal and ambient label from Southern France. Autrenoir is bold and powerful music. It’s very much rhythm-centered project but without the distorted grandeur of both Mondkopf and Saåad. Instead we’re offered loud and massive rhythmic structures that I think shine the brightest when performed live. These are linked together by techno-inspired and sometimes dubby bass lines, with uneasy melodies that escalate alongside a haze of insistent hi-hats. At points Autrenoir is reminiscent of harsh UK bass music with a somewhat of an industrial feel and a stronger emphasis on atmosphere. Think the better tracks of Dylan Carlson with The Bug.
I find it impressive that Buffier and Régimbeau managed to write a very atmospheric record that’s so busy on beats. The ambiance on their debut EP is not achieved by the wall-of-sound I usually associate Greg’s guitar work with, or the sparse synth work found in the last Mondkopf ambient LP They Fall, But You Don’t. Autrenoir somehow manage to leave a lot of air in their production and while that space might feel heavy like a black cloud, it really allows the sounds to unfold and breathe.
Somebody press this on vinyl or at least a tape already.