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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

(the) Penelope[s] - Priceless Concrete Echoes

Name: (the) Penelope[s]
Album: Priceless Concrete Echoes
Year: 2009
Style: Indie Pop, Electronic
Similar Bands: New Order, Daft Punk, old Depeche Mode, Bryan Ferry, Human League, Joy Division, Air, the Drive soundtrack, Tricky, LCD Soundsystem.
One Word Review: Pleasant, Funky Synthetic Washing
Based Out Of: Paris, France - London
Label: Citizen, Module, Le Plan
Priceless Concrete Echoes: Cover, Notes, CD
Priceless Concrete Echoes: Liner Notes, Back
Priceless Concrete Echoes: Lyrics
Priceless Concrete Echoes: Liner Pictures
Priceless Concrete Echoes: Lyrics
Priceless Concrete Echoes: Liner Notes

Priceless Concrete Echoes (2009)
  1. Stuck in lalaland (feat. Morpheus) 4:39
  2. Demian (feat. Dierdre) 3:30
  3. Licked by Love (feat. Morpheus) 3:46
  4. Circle of Seasons 4:46
  5. Saved (feat. Morpheus & Malka Spigel) 4:21
  6. Joey Santiago 4:50
  7. Sabotage (Beastie Boys) 3:58
  8. Long Black Fly (feat. Morpheus) 5:02
  9. The Heat Goes On (feat. Morpheus) 4:33
  10. Concrete 4:04
  11. Your Plan For Happiness 5:04
Album Rating (1-10): 9.0

Members & Other Bands: 
Axel Basquiat - Vox, Composition, Badd, Gutiar, Keyboard, Programming, Larsen, Lyrics, Mixing
Vincent Tremel - Beats, Keyboard, Sounds, Treatments, Programming, Larsen, Lyrics, Mixing
Morpheus (Samy Birnbach) - Vox, Writing Composition (Earth, The Gruesome Twosome, Minimal Compact, The Morphtwins, Oracle)
Dierdre Dubois - Vox (Ekova)
Malka Spigel - Vox (Earth, Githead, Host, Immersion, Intens, Minimal Compact, Oracle)
Arnaud Rebotini - Producer (Black Strobe, More, Sartrouville, Krell, Grand Crue, Swamp)
Benjamin Beaulieu - Drums (Animal Machine, Black Strobe)
Mr. Claude - Reworking, Mastering
Jean-Francois Sanz - Illustrations
Yann Le Marec - Sleeve
Peggy Baunay - Photographs
Oliver Martinez - Photographs

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of them, but from the names, and the liner notes, it seems like it will be electronic produced dance music (programming, treatments, etc) or rap (all the featuring spots). I like the simple design and yellow and blue color scheme, and it looked quite indie when I bought it. Plus the name comes into play too, sounding bouncy and fun, yet the album title sounds deep and complex. It will be interesting to see what is on this 25 cent album.

Album Review: The Penelopes are a French indie-pop band that incorporates electronic and disco into their mix. This record of theirs is listed as a side project collaboration with Morpheus, as he is featured on almost half of the album. They have been spreading out their talents lately, remixing other popular songs (Pet Shop Boys, Lana Del Ray, David Bowie, the Cure) and scoring films (La Contribution, Misunderstood) that were featured at the 2014 Cannes film festival. They use the vocals to carry melodies, but the effects surrounding and used upon them render them unintelligible. The music creates a general white washing feel of pleasantry over the listener, in a somewhat slow motion pace.

“Stuck in lalaland (feat. Morpheus)” shimmers as it begins with guitars and synthetic drums. A watery melody is added and “heys” punctuate the song. The vocals begin, and have a dark wave sense about them, although the song is quite cheery. A bass and drum breakdown slows the song almost to a halt, before monotone, computer-ish voices build the song back up, and accompanied by the repetitive melody, the song returns. The song ends with a dark wave beat.
“Demian (feat. Dierdre)” starts with a rolling alarm like keyboard hook. The smooth, pleasant female vocals throw a pop hook over the electric backing track, reminding me a little of Stereolab & Belle & Sebastain. The track really grooves like ocean wave vocals where the bass line functions as the undertow. The repetitiveness in the bleak breakdown sucks the air out of the song, and loses all momentum. So the beat is brought back, and the song returns to its harmonized, layered melody and pleasantness.
“Licked by Love (feat. Morpheus)” sets the tone for a futuristic driving song. The vocals remind me of Joy Division at first, and they have a very Peter Hook bassline, but they transition into something prouder and content. The synth beat is vibrating just beneath the surface, giving the song support to build from. Another synth alarm is added in the background, and it repeats over and over. The vocals are somewhat deep, and rather nasally.
“Circle of Seasons” starts with a steady cymbal beat, and a smooth running bass line. The wavering, deep nasally Male vocals are paired with female vocals that sound like they are strained in trying to reach for the microphone. At first, the song was trying to find its place, but it really comes into its own by the 2 minute mark as a steady driving duet. The song finishes out with the female vocals morphing into a cartoonish growl, singing “It’s so brutal” on repeat. The bass line and one hit drum beat finish the song out.
“Saved (feat. Morpheus & Malka Spigel)” is airy and spacey-futuristic, and feels like it is right off of the Drive Soundtrack. It grows in spirit, and blossoms in slow motion with a chorus of harmonized, ethereal vocals that are barely intelligible. This is one dimensional, feel good, waking up music.
“Joey Santiago” is named after the Pixies’ bass player. It brings back the funky fun, with a dynamic bassline harkening back to old school hip hop. Effects are added to the track one at a time, including bubbling synths, and shockwaves of sirens zooming from ear to ear. Miniature walls of sound crest and then fall away in this instrumental track. Synthetic power tools pick up the rising and falling melody and give a new take on the hooks.

“Sabotage” is a cover of the Beastie Boys hit. It takes the guitar and strips it down into a synthetic, 8-bit hook. The drums are synthetic pinpoints of percussion, rather than the crashing real sound. The original’s energy is frozen in this version, and a Tricky-like loopy trip-hop glaze is extracted with their version. Even the build-up of “Listen all-o-yall itza sabatoge” is muted here.
“Long Black Fly (feat. Morpheus)” has a heavy, static-zipper bass line, and the vocals are Parliment-funky. The static bass changes over to a richer, yunkier sound. And the pause and start up, accompanies with the “Ohs” reminds me of what it would be like for LCD Soundsystem to cover Funkadelic. A bit of chaos is created at the end with all the elements building up together, including yells, the chorus, the bass beat on repeat, and a soaring wall synth that is poised for complete sonic take over.
“The Heat Goes On (feat. Morpheus)” starts with synthesized vocals (SFA), and a cold-yet-pleasant, computer melody. The vocals then become drowned out in echo, and the synth elements rise up all around them, enveloping the vocals and drawing them back down.
“Concrete” fades up vocal chorus of “Ah-oh, oh-Ah-oh’s” with an accompanying vocal mixed low to create a minimal dark wave vibe. This reminds me a little of the Fad Gadget stuff I’ve reviewed earlier. The verse is reserved, but building energy, which lifts off into the chorus. The vocals are again the deep nasally style, that reminds me of Chuck Mosely (singer of FNM before Patton) “Your Plan For Happiness” is a smooth slice of futuristic synth pop, with spoken word dialogue like Pulp over the cruising melody. The sexy smooth French vocals, are juxtaposed against a female giggling uncontrollably. There is a New Order breakdown of synthetic industrial beats, and it picks right back up into the soaring synth-phony. It is a techno song that could theoretically go on forever, continuing jumping from tonal scale to the next before resetting and starting over. 

Stand Out Track: Demian (feat. Dierdre)

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