- Vainio & Vigroux's Peau Froide, Léger Soleil ("Cold Skin, Light Sun" in English) is the first recorded evidence of a three-year collaboration. While Mika Vainio might be familiar to many, Franck Vigroux is likely less so. He's been an active musician and artist since the '90s, but this is only his third full-length release outside of his D'Autre Cordes label. Originally a guitarist by trade, his instrumentation creeps in on "Le Souterrain," the penultimate track here. It adds a fresh set of sounds to the record, calling to mind a sort of Morricone-style loneliness, or Neil Young's Dead Man soundtrack.
Elsewhere, the pair's traditional interests are more comfortably aligned. The album consists mostly of aggressive, industrial sounds. On first listen, these more confrontational pieces present an unbroken edifice of rock-solid sound: big, thumping kicks propel harsh waves of noise into reckless collisions. They can feel static, locked in a restricted rhythm, straining against their bonds. But the details emerge over time. Layers of carefully synthesised tones separate, making the cleverness and precision of their composition clear. Soon you're listening past the blockbuster moments—the first drop on "Deux," the side-chain pumps at the end of "Mémoire"—to the smaller sounds rustling in the background.
"Man," perhaps the quietest track here, begins with the near-weightless breathing of resonant, bell-like tones, and slowly fills out with waves of low, rumbling noises and odd chords. The snippets of vocoder only add to the sense of unease, a slight but unshakable feeling of dislocation. Something is wrong—in fact, it's hard to say what's right. Everything feels colored by a feeling of paranoia and tense desolation. It's a rich atmosphere to spend time in, and Vainio & Vigroux maintain it perfectly until the last, withering note.
Peau Froide, Léger Soleil is a difficult album to get a grip on, it's length and diversity compounding any attempt to sum it up neatly. It draws on the same impulses that have driven Vainio's career to date: a dedication to intense sound design, sound wielded as a weapon and sound as something ambiguous, almost comforting but not quite. The aggressive tracks are sometimes spectacular—"Parabole" on a large soundsystem would be impressively daunting—but more often, the quieter moments stick in the mind.
08. Le Souterrain
09. Le Crâne Tambour