Currently comprised of Edouard Lebrun (drums, samples), Sebastien Torregrossa (guitar) and their newest member multi-instrumentalist Gregory Hoepffner, the Paris-based instrumental space rock/math rock/experimental rock trio Jean Jean has gone through a series of lineup changes with the band starting off as a trio, with a brief period of time as a duo, before expanding back to a trio with the project releasing their self-titled debut EP and their 2013 full-length debut Symmetry, which they supported with hundreds of live shows across the European Union, Japan and the States; but as the story goes, when the project was a duo featuring Lebrun and Torregrossa, they wrote and recorded a follow-up EP that they scrapped because something — or someone — was missing. Lebrun and Torregrossa were initially unsuccessful in their search for a third musician to further flesh out their sound, until their longtime friend Hoepffner, who had been responsible for the band’s visuals signed up to join the band, and as the band’s Lebrun recalls in press notes, things clicked right away. “He [Hoepffner] brought this glue linking the drums and the guitars, adding another level,” Lebrun says.
The band’s recently released album Froidpierre is the first featuring the band as a newly constituted trio, and the album, which was recorded in a cabin named Froidspierre (or cold stone) in the French Alps is reportedly a marked departure from their previously released work. “We were tired of complex and festive tracks; we wanted to avoid over-doing things, to stop doing patchwork and have proper songs with real hindsight. The songs are shorter because they were composed with a sense of urgency.” And while these were all very conscious decisions, it was also driven by a sense of urgency as the band’s Lebrun frequently had to take the first night bus from the suburban studio to his home in Paris. Interestingly enough, as the band notes as they were writing and recording the material that would eventually comprise their latest effort, each member of the band while being aware of the fact that they all had great creative chemistry and something musically powerful was happening, something in the air just wasn’t right.
During the third day of the recording sessions Torregrossa went out on the balcony to smoke a cigarette and suddenly he felt an uncontrollable sense of fear throughout his own body. With a racing heart, he rushed back inside without looking band. The next day, Lebrun managed to be in the exact same spot and he couldn’t shake the persistent feeling that there was a presence behind him. Just as he turned around, he caught what looked like a ghost out of the corner of his eye. Frozen in fear, he stared at this presence and got lost in its inverted human-like silhouette. As Lebrun recalls, it felt as though he were slowly sinking into quicksand until somehow he managed to get away; but he felt unsettled and uneasy throughout the rest of the night. Hoepffner felt a strong sense of discomfort as he was sitting in the studio’s kitchen — so much so that, after a few days, he made sure to never enter a room on his own. At night, he someone or something whispering his name. And while he spent time trying to convince himself that someone was trying to play an elaborate prank on him, Hoepffner couldn’t shake having impressions of a wasted life, without any rational explanation. The band’s friend and photographer Maxime slept in a room that was made entirely of stones and was once a former stable, and one night he heard a woman’s voice calling his name, and felt something lean on him, and a cold sensation overtake his entire body.
Sometimes, they all would hear strange noises and banging on the walls that kept them awake most of the night. They all spoke about something with a beastly scream and of objects suddenly and unexpectedly being knocked down. Although it was only until after the recording sessions were complete that the members of the band shared their own experiences, the sensation of anxious, uncertain dread and fear, of being on the edge, of not being able to trust your senses and your reason. Album single “Anada” is centered around a thunderous drumming, shimmering and gently undulating synths and guitar — and while being reminiscent of JOVM mainstays Mogwai, The Octopus Project and Remember Remember, the composition evokes an unshakeable, dark, menacing and inexplicable presence that’s lurking behind you, felt but unseen. And as a result, the incredibly cinematic track feels and sounds as though it should be included as part of the soundtrack of a psychological thriller that would capture the anxious dread of our current sociopolitical moment.
Filmed by Maxime Leyravaud and the members of Jean Jean, and edited by the band’s Gregory Hoepffner, the recently released video features some almost Stanley Kubrick-esque like footage shot during the band’s Fall 2017 Japan tour that’s split between the band capturing portions of everyday Japanese life with a surrealistic touch and the band performing live.
Jean Jean will be embarking on a Stateside tour, opening for Carpenter Brut. Check out tour dates below.