Moncton-based Les Païens are back with ‘Carte Noire’, the aptly named followup to their 2013 album ‘Carte Blanche’. The album, coming out November 5th, embraces the full breadth of Les Païens’ self-proclaimed genre of ‘cosmic jazz rock,’ with a sprawling variety of sounds and incredible depth.
While other artists typically save the heavier material for later in the album, Les Païens know what they’re about, opening ‘Carte Noir’ with ‘Pas Ton Char’, an upbeat seven minute long jazz rock epic. Constructed from a solid rhythm and a few looping, repetitive tunes and beats, the song progressively evolves, building the different parts upon themselves and cycling them out for variations upon the same core beat while never truly sounding repetitive.
Coming after this strong opening is the more rock-influenced ‘Le Coeur Qui Bat’, another of ‘Carte Noir’s most memorable tracks. Though one of the shortest tracks on the album, Les Païens doesn’t waste their time getting down to business. With celestial synth droning over a catchy, looping guitar riff, a steadily intensifying beat, and French rapping, it’s clear why it was selected to be the album’s promotional single.
While ‘Le Coeur Qui Bat’ is the album’s best single material, ‘Carte Noir’ has quite a few more tracks that really let the ‘rock’ half of Les Païens‘ jazz/rock label shine. For example, ‘DOT-111’ is entirely structured around a mean bass riff and crashing cymbals with electric guitar bouncing back and fourth between wailing solos and free-form improvisation. ‘Scuze Moi…’, another engaging track, is built around jazz horns over top of a heavy rock a drum and bass combo after its intro of choppy, distorted vocals and electronic sound.
On the other end of the spectrum, tracks such as ‘DJ Teddybeans’ or ‘L’Aube Submurgée’ stand out through excellence in their jazzy improvisational work on horn and guitar. Certain tracks go the extra mile to embrace Les Païens cosmic jazz feel, with the trumpet stylings of ‘Ffff’ blending together over ethereal synth and looping vocals and guitar. ‘Non Non Non Oui Non’ is another such track, a prolonged build-up of celestial vocals backed by ambient synth and abstract input from the rest of the band until it breaks down into a free-form mix of bass riffs, electronic noise, and bizarre vocals. Top stamps.
With a diverse array of tracks and the talent to back it up, Les Païens have put together an exceptional album, Regardless of whether you’re already a fan or are just hearing about them now for the first time, listening to ‘Carte Noire’ is an experience well worth having.