Breton – Other People’s Problems
A lot of the time in the digital world, your first perception of something is vital. There’s a myriad of reasons for this, for Mail readers there’s the shortening attention span of youths, or more likely, it’s the quantity of digestible information on the internet. At first glance, Breton come across as another ‘mystery’ band, this time with an electronic ‘post-dub’ edge. If you read Pitchfork, it’s because their proximity to Brixton and recording studio in a disused bank all culminate in one wildly left wing socio-liberal political statement they’re waiting to unveil. Maybe though, it’s because they like electronic music; and their privacy. Still it’s difficult to not see semi mysterious bands (after all, they’re no WU LYF) through a cynical lens, but if working as a cryptic ‘art collective’ leaves a little bit more to the imagination, which it does, which subsequently makes them more intriguing, which it definitely does, then what right do we have to implore they lay their lives bare to us? Francis Bacon once said ‘the job of the art is to deepen the mystery’. In this case though, maybe the mystery is there to deepen the art.
And there’s no denying Breton are artists. Not just because they dabble in video, but due to their ability to somehow conceptualise the urban decay and sharp lined aesthetic of the 21st century in a flickering, post-modern electronic ode – ‘Other People’s Problems’. It’s like being stuck somewhere between the hazy insomnia of Brad Anderson’s The Machinist, urban dystopia of Orwell’s 1984 and a Croydon garage night. A revised take on the energetic sounds of electronic music and night life that Ghostpoet found similar success with in his debut album. That said, for all of Breton’s debut outing ‘Other People’s Problems’, the most commendable aspect is their ability to nurture a soundscape both familiar, and wholly unknown. The familiarity being the range of sounds they use, the unknown, quite how they fit it all together.
Front man Roman Rappak’s vocals remain warped and heavily altered throughout the LP, like an electrified version of Casablanca’s on ‘Is This It’, whilst amongst the variety of quirky instrumentation, sub bass ripples and a weak static hiss linger in every corner of the record. It’s a well employed effect that generates a sense of energy like that seen in the work of Jai Paul, restrained and controlled by what’s becoming increasingly obvious, an extremely talented outfit. The chopped up drums of Pacemaker suit this energy well, as does the renowned single Edward The Confessor, but it’s a bit tiresome on 2 Years, or the later Ghost Note. There’s maintaining a sound, and falling back on the same old tools, and it feels in this LP the latter is more often the case.
There’s still plenty of quality to be found though. The aforementioned Ghost Notes and Edward The Confessor join the the wonderfully contrasted stringed accompaniment of Wood and Plastic, and squeaky riffs an group harmonies of Jostle as highlights. Fundamentally, this is a solid debut, but when considered alongside their B-Side EP ‘Blanket Rule’ or even earlier releases, there’s a feeling that often great songs were sacrificed if they didn’t meet the concept Breton have crafted, and even if they did, they’d be sprinkled with analog recording idiosyncrasies, the audio equivalent of adding grain to a photo, to guarantee they match up. There’s a wonderfully built concept here, and a synaesthesia inducing collection of sounds with a particularly aesthetic lure. The issue is; whether listening to this debut is as enjoyable as appreciating it’s distinct artistic direction, and therein lies it’s largest problem.
As it stands though, this is an interesting listen, crafted by exceedingly talented individuals, scattered with great tracks. Now they’ve made their dystopian statement though, it’s going to be a delight to see what they deliver next. Maybe Pitchfork’s right, ‘A spectre is haunting Europe’…
Breton – Wood And Plastic
Breton – Jostle