Photo by Fanny Béguély

KAMI drops the listener into shady territory. Overhead thunder booms like an ominous omen across an unfamiliar sky, gloom-sketched, preparing the listener for an imminent deluge of black rain. Trembling strings begin to scratch at the record with a texture as sharp as a fingernail. The fourth release from drone quartet FOUDRE! is an album of disappearance and subsequent invasion, a body-snatching horror that resembles a Thing From Outer Space, but incorporated into the artform of music. Its consciousness hasn’t been completely erased by the comfort of a bottle, but it’s been stained by one trauma too many, adding another event to a growing jukebox of drunken blues. In its sullen state, its cells start to form a monochromatic, noir-like atmosphere, rich in an anguish that’s always feeding, growing and growing throughout its duration until it says hi to a horrific end. The band – comprised of Frédéric D. Oberland (The Rustle Of The Stars, Le Réveil des Tropiques, Farewell Poetry), Romain Barbot (Saåad), Grégory Buffier (Saåad, Autrenoir), and Paul Régimbeau (Mondkopf, Autrenoir) – offer a fierce listen.

With the help of off-kilter, revolving electronics, a metamorphosis comes to fruition, stepping from a world of light and into an absence of that light. Wailing strings all stir from dark, directionless alleys. Twinkling harmonic strands are engaged in a battle, fighting to survive amid an influx of interfering noise. Consistent in the pursuit of chaos and artistic dislocation, the quartet let the music move on its own volition, not obsessing over its development (which can be detrimental to the music) or expectations, but allowing it to go its own way. Letting the storm pass. The record’s unpredictability, along with the darkness that latches onto it, is another stressor, ticking away like an anxiety-bomb.

Recorded last year at Le Rex de Toulouse, where they supported French doom metal band Monarch!’ on their 10th anniversary, KAMI is a shapeshifter with many a surprise littered in and around its maze-like mass. A dark beast hides within its music, obscured in shadow and only revealed when the unsavory noise claws at the record’s skin. The percussion taps on the door, wanting to gain entry, needing an invitation. Its bleak industrial and power-ambient setting converges with a chrome sky, the electronics spitting out a cycle of polluted noise.

Rather than being an all-out assault – the sound of a warzone – the noise is a constant, unsettling presence. When it meets a sparkling synth, the two tribes of harmony and dissonance clash. Fireworks explode in the air, like firebombs thrown between gangs and the police. As the fighting continues, other melodies and programmed drums come in. The amorphous music is capable of initiating a Parisian earthquake, mere seconds away from emitting a deafening scream. Synths climb up the music’s apparatus before shooting off and transforming into fading echoes, and tanks of propane light up the ten-minute ‘Hachiman’, where after a lengthy spell of taxiing the track is able to go full-throttle, revealing its true face. There’s no way to back out once you reach this stage – it’s the culmination, the climax, and it can only go one way. The scream is unleashed. The beat is a jackhammer, drilling into the base of the track. The noise is punishing. Debris swirls in the air. Welcome to the eye of the storm.

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