I first became aware of Sister Iodine when my group Fflaps played alongside them in Lille way back in November 1992. I enjoyed them a lot – they played a thrilling high energy no wave inflected punk rock, full of dissonant guitar savagery, filtered through an inscrutable Gallic nonchalance. Maybe their sound at the time owed a little too much to Sonic Youth, whose Lee Ranaldo had produced some of their earliest recordings, but they unmistakably had enough of their own identity to come over as serious contenders. Having spent mush of the nineties playing alongside such venerable names as Faust, Melt Banana, Stereolab, The Ex, Keiji Haino and Sonic Youth themselves, they retired towards the end of the decade for several years due to geographical separation before reforming seriously in 2004.
Surprisingly only their fourth album in 17 years, Flame Désastre has been around for some months already on vinyl, but now the people at Éditions Mego have put out an expanded CD version, complete with two extra tracks. The group have certainly not mellowed over the years and their unrelenting pummelling noise is subjected here to the kind of oversaturated head splitting production that Asahito Nanjo utilises so well with High Rise. Complementing their lacerating guitars and crushing drums, Sister Iodine are also adept at coaxing the most psychedelically brutalist sounds from their vintage analogue Korg PS 3010, at times invoking the almost orgasmic image of Throbbing Gristle jamming with Boredoms. One of the best instrumental noise rock albums for some time, Flame Désastre proves these Parisians to be more than the equals of the more widely celebrated Rhode Island and Tokyo scenes.