Ocre – Ocre (2018) REVIEW

This relatively short 7″ EP comes as prime excerpt from an improvisational session melding the drumming of Michel ‘Away’ Langevin (Voivod, Tau Cross) with the bass/atmospherics of Stefan Thanneur (Chaos Echœs). The collaboration is not entirely musical, though, as both musicians are well known visual artists and designers. Langevin is well-known for his distinctive illustrations and design for Voivod and related projects while Thanneur has been providing artwork and design for French metal projects since the late 80’s (See: Loudblast‘s first two LPs) and more recently Dirge, Svart Crown, and Skeletonwitch. The great draw of this release is certainly the musical collaboration itself but it is worth noting that a very limited run of these 7″ EPs will be collaboratively illustrated with one-of-a-kind artwork by both Langevin and Thanneur.

Built from sections of a longer improvised performance, the nine minutes of ‘Ocre’ are split into two distinct parts. Side A “Ocre Rouge” begins with ringing feedback that collapses into a tribal atmospheric sludge grinder that aggresses towards it’s growling middle peak before Thanneur‘s always ominous soundscapes give permission to recede. Side B “Ocre Jaune” is a rippling sea of ambiance atop the drowning, motor-like hum that continues to surge while Langevin‘s venturously spirited jazz affect kicks towards it’s conclusion. As a duo both sides take turns featuring the two musician’s personalities in equal measure and in this sense ‘Ocre’ has been edited to give equal highlight while also providing two distinct and inspired movements.

Though I like this treatment of improvised and composed elements, it took a few spins (and some excessive volume) to begin to realize the amount of detail placed atop relatively simple bones. Thanneur‘s musical endeavors always tease just enough darkness to be continually compelling and a combination of restrained structure and myriad atmospheric layers provide a signature depth in his work.  Because of the type of work and conception Voivod fans might not be getting anything entirely recognizably ‘Away’ from Ocre but there is a subtle sci-fi characteristic to the pieces that feels appropriate. Chaos Echœs fans will recognize this in some similar ballpark as more recent improvised/atmospheric releases for the meshing of tribally influenced drums with a distinct bass tone. ‘Ocre’ is a worthy listen with enough layers to dig through that it’s brevity isn’t a huge issue, likewise an interesting item for collectors/fanatics for both artists involved.

Artist Ocre
Type EP
Released July 13, 2018
BUY/LISTEN on Utech Records’ Bandcamp!  Away on FB | Stefan Thanneur on FB

To Earth its own. 4.0/5.0

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