Le Petit Mignon / Staalplaat
Monno‘s 2013 album Cheval Ouvert has been spruced up for this art edition by Le Petit Mignon, pressed on two glorious discs of purple/white and gold/white vinyl. Encased in a fold-out sleeve that is a work of obvious dedication and considerable aesthetic delight, the four tracks inside offer a perhaps less obvious but no less satisfying a route to gratification as its packaging.
Over the course of the side-long tracks numbered simply “I-IV”, Derek Shirley (bass), Marc Fantini (drums), Gilles Aubry (electronics and vocals) and Antoine Chessex (electric tenor saxophone) whip up four incandescent storms of varying degrees of intensity, burning bright, and rocking hard and with a steadfast improv purpose.Excoriating hardly begins to adequately describe Cheval Ouvert‘s fearsome sprawl, the quartet’s instruments locked into a ceaseless barrage of frenetic riffing and roiling pretty much throughout “II”, for example. The opening section involves a good ten minutes storming repetition before surging into shriller-textured territory as the band swerve into a meander which soon finds them poised on the brink of a noisecore abyss, then plunging headfirst over the precipice. “III” switches back to a take a more menacing approach, snarling softly like a cyborg dog waiting playfully for its turn to wrench the bones from its sparring partner’s grasp and sunder it on slavering electrical jaws, chest heaving with muscular tension and a sense of withheld visceral power yet to be unleashed. Monno opt, however, for a more electronics-heavy finale, ramping up the doom factor as Shirley’s bass prowls menacingly among the cycling strata of textural shimmer, Aubry’s naggingly unwholesome synthesizer squitters and Chessex’s whinnying sax line. When Fantini’s drums pound in, they’re countered by shrieks and wails that strike sparks and could shatter any nearby glass that remains unpummelled by the chest cavity-quaking low end.
Whenther listened to on vinyl, as a CD or a downloaded, Cheval Ouvert can be overwhelming enough; the care and attention that Ben Sanair and Le Petit Mignon have put into its artwork and presentation take matters so much further that the intensity of the music can only be matched by its equally impressive physical manifestation.