Le Havre


French Canadian duo Le Havre formed in 2009 and have released a succession of excellent EPs over the past two years. Their latest, Le Havre + Invités EP1, was issued as recently as October.

The Montréal based act, which consists of guitarist and vocalist Charles-David Dubé and drummer Oli Bernatchez, are now releasing their debut album, Trajectories, a superb showcase of their unique blend of glitchy art rock and jazz influenced rhythms.

The record opens with ‘De reculons’ (roughly translated as ‘Going Backwards’) and immediately exhibits the duo’s ability to craft wonderfully unorthodox arrangements that, despite their initial oddness, still accommodate the ears of newcomers.

Bernatchez utilises a hip hop sensibility on drums, comparable to the jazzy beats of west coast artists like Flying Lotus and Knxwledge. His technique is all the more impressive for achieving its offbeat inflection acoustically.

The tracks ‘Guérilla’ and ‘Copy-Paste’ are perhaps the best examples of Dubé’s refreshing approach to guitar. His sample-like transitions between chords, coupled with a seductively surreal tone of chorus effect, results in some truly hypnotic and intricate melodies.

‘Le fond des bois’ (‘Deep in the Woods’) once again displays Le Havre’s level of competence as musicians. The two complement each other perfectly, demonstrating an expert level of technical precision, while remaining consistently unpredictable to the listener.

Trajectoires is an exceptional record and undoubtedly one of the best released this year.



Posh Isolation

Arguably the linchpin of Copenhagen’s ever-fertile DIY scene, Loke Rahbek is one of those artists that no-one can mention without the ‘prolific’ descriptor, but he is extraordinarily so, with a vast catalogue spanning a broad spectrum across post-punk, noise and much more besides. He also co-founded and runs Posh Isolation, the label and shop that functions as the beating heart of the Copenhagen experimental underground. Croatian Amor is his foremost solo alias, and Love Means Taking Action quite possibly his defining work to date.

It’s abstract, sparse music – sometimes little more than a bit of clattering, disjointed percussion and some plaintive synth or ominous vocals – and also uncompromising, often brutal in its approach. ‘Octopus Web’ bases itself on a few atonal, unevenly pulsing obfuscated samples, but gradually unspools into flowing ambience.

When asked in a recent interview if this album showcases his ‘kinder and gentler side’, Rahbek responded, “I like the thought that it’s kind, but I don’t care for it to be gentle,” and that’s the perfect encapsulation of the album’s tone. It feels a bit like a David Lynch film, in that even at its most tender, such as on the spacious piano-based ‘Nadim Call Emergence II’, there is always a deeply lurking sense of unease. But, also like Lynch, it does feel ultimately benevolent and caring, a rumination on love at its most mystical and unknowable, love’s power to disrupt and confound as much as to invigorate.

Thomas Sprackland