Earlier this year, I wrote about the Paris-based instrumental space rock/math rock/experimental rock trio Jean Jean, currently comprised of Edouard Lebrun (drums, samples), Sebastien Torregrossa (guitar) and their newest member multi-instrumentalist Gregory Hoepffner, and as you may recall although the act has gone through a series of lineup changes in which the band started off as a trio and had a brief period as a duo, before expanding back to a trio with the release of their self-titled debut EP and 2013’s full-length debut Symmetry, which they supported with hundreds of live shows across the European Union, Japan and the US.
Interestingly though, when the band was a trio featuring Lebrun and Torregrossa, they wrote and recorded a follow-up EP that they scrapped because they felt 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 Lebrun recalls in press notes, things immediately clicked. “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 re-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. As the band collectively mentions in press note, as they were busily writing and recording the material that would comprise their latest effort, each individual member of the band recognized that they had a great creative chemistry and that while something musically powerful was happening during the sessions, something in the air wasn’t quite 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 back. 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 heard 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. Naturally, these experiences whether consciously or subconsciously managed to influence the sound and tone of the album’s material; in fact, album single “Anada,” evokes an unshakably, dark, menacing, and inexplicable presence lurking behind you, felt but unseen. Froidspierre’s latest single “Event Horizon” is an incredibly cinematic composition centered around shimmering, arpeggiated synths, buzzing power chords, thumping and propulsive drumming and a soaring hook, and much like its immediate predecessor, the composition evokes an anxious and creeping dread. And unsurprisingly, the gorgeously shot video filmed by the band’s longtime friend, photographer Maxime Leyravaud and the band further emphasizes the creeping dread in the song; of shadowy figures seemingly coming out of the dark — for you.