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PILES – Photo Credit: Bas Mantel
We don’t hear about too many French artists on this side of the Atlantic and when we do, they are usually quite ‘accessible’ – bands like Phoenix, Daft Punk, and Air, and chanteuses like Charlotte Gainsbourg and Vanessa Paradis are practically household names in many countries.
Today we get experimental with the newest release to be announced by America’s own innovative small label Aagoo Records, in cooperation with Amsterdam-based label REV. Lab Records. The debut album from experimental outfit PILES – Una Volta – will be released as a CD with accompanying art book.
Today the Big Takeover Magazine has the pleasure of premiering the lead track from this album, called ‘Drones and Piles’. This track from the album emerged as a reinterpreted live version #13 of a composition from Drones and Drolls, with 12 previous versions first appearing on the concept album Le Batteur Est Le Meilleur Ami Du Musicien by PILES drummer Guigou Chevenier.
The album on the whole is a non-standard release, solidly in the experimental realm and focused on specifically drum-oriented tracks. This is one for lovers of such artists as Neu!, Can, Trans Am, Hanged Up, and Beak. Beginning with a hazy ambient pad and launching into a constant drum performance, ‘Drones and Piles’ builds from there, side tracking here and there as Krautrock often does, before returning to the song’s central thread.
This central thread is wavering, as in many improvisational jazz tracks, but does find it’s way back, with layer upon layer added – more drums, added guitar squalls, and that persistent synth pad. At just 3:44, ‘Drones and Piles’ weaves a intricate path, drawing the listener in and out in the most intriguing way, building to a climax that leaves you wanting more by the time the pinnacle finally comes, the song ending exactly at that point. An impressive, high-energy introduction to a band of very capable musicians.
PILES’ Una Volta CD is accompanied by a 32-page booklet based on the graphic stop-motion video ‘Drones and Piles’, created by graphic artist Bas Mantel. The visuals were created to the music in the same way the scenes of Eisenstein’s 1938 film Alexandre Nevski was directed totally based on the rhythm of the music of Sergei Prokofiev.
The rhythmic and fragmentary style of the black and white images exposes the art of dance with Lettraset, dots-dots-dots, molecules transmitting life and death, cells constructing shapes and graphic radiowaves translated into frequencies and velocity, repetition in electro-magnetic patterns, and the isolation of getting lost in outer space.
Like PILES’ drum-based sound, these graphic designs are frightening, direct, loud/quiet, raw, layered, fragmentary, abstract, and experimental. REV. Lab founder Bas Mantel felt PILES would be a perfect fit for the REV. Lab. series, released in cooperation with Aagoo Records.
Produced by Anthony Laguerre at the Shadyn Studio (Nancy, France), Una Volta is a knock-out record of eight drum sound compositions, revealing secrets of the universe that are written in light. Abstract instrumental, this collection of tracks was created by three friends who teamed up especially for this recording.
Based in the French cities of Nancy and Avignon, PILES is comprised of Guigou Chevenier (Etron Fou Leloublan, Volapük), Anthony Laguerre (Filiamotsa, Club Cactus, Myotis), and Michel Deltruc (Isle-Adam 95, NAJA Nancy Jazz Action). In 2016, Chevenier had the idea for PILES to continue his musical work with experimental trio Les Batteries (1985-2000). This trio also involved British drummer Charles Hayward and American drummer Rick Brown. PILES’ three drummers have long and rich careers.
PILES’ sound is a free-fall into the universe of energetic beats, rhythm, dynamics, repetition of the unexpected. It is an adventure that reveals the hidden depths of their sound spectrum of acoustic drums.
PILES’ drumming is shaped by their individual life paths and musical roads, as well as architecture, landscapes, nature, politics, film, art, dance and theater. By seeing and hearing the rhythm in all that surrounds us. Taking inspiration from kraut rock, free jazz and improv, they are also influenced by Can, Dave Grohl, Arvo Part, Drumbo (of Captain Beefheart), Robert Wyatt, Abe Cunningham, Jimmy Chamberlain, Jon Theodore, Joe Baron, and many others.
Una Volta is a limited release of 300 copies, including a CD with book carefully packed in a semi-transparent glassine bag. As of September 21, it will be available via online stores and streaming platforms, but can already be ordered from Aagoo Records’ website and digitally via Bandcamp.
1. Drones and Piles 03:21
2. Decay 03:14
3. Ulrik 01:49
4. Mort aux cons 02:31
5. Kraut and Piles 09:04
6. Materials in US 09:08
7. Chambre d’echo 03:58
8. Marie 09:17
Enjoy the innovative video for this track by Bas Mantel:
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