Baron Crâne – Commotions Reissue
Mrs Red Sound Records
Release Date: 09/04/2021
Running Time: 31:20
Review by Dark Juan
I am being rather more productive than I have any right to be on a Sunday when I had a Saturday night imbibing significant quantities of fine British ales and was up early this morning, due to various hellhounds wanting to be let out to piss up my fuchsias and generally be rather irritating and shout at the passing Pomeranian (this was Hodgson Biological-Warfare doing this. He takes his guard dog duties very seriously, and passing chonky floofs are clearly out to murder the entire household). He takes his duties that seriously that I once suffered a bite wound to my previously perfect posterior when I was engaged in a mutual act of closeness with Mrs Dark Juan. This, after he had basically head-butted his stupid trundletank way through the CLOSED bedroom door. Suffice it to say, the fucking door was reinforced. Also, thanks to him and also Sir Zeusington Zeus VC, KCMG, MM, DFC and Bar, Croix De Guerre, you are not permitted to bathe alone in my castle. You must be observed by demented canines at all times. Unless you want to hear pitiful wailing from behind the closed door for as long as it takes you to break and open it, at which point Zeus will try to eat the toilet paper, for he is as dumb as the hole in a cow’s arse. Suddenly, your bath is not relaxing anymore…
I am listening to an interesting proposition in Baron Crâne. This French trio of progtastic musicians formed in Paris in 2014 and offer a spasmodic, jarring journey through the sounds of psychedelic rock, jazz fusion and noise rock. Frequently moving between all these several times in the same song. Normally, Baron Crâne are an instrumental act, but on two pieces on this record, they have added an extra dynamic with the addition of guest vocalists.
In all honesty I had never heard of Baron Crâne before, and just plucked it from the extremely large and diverse review list we get to choose from at Ever-Metal Towers simply because I liked the name of the band. Sometimes it’s good to just grab something at random and experience something new, don’t you think?
The record opens with ‘Firmin’ which immediately brings to mind Primus (but slightly less mental than Les Claypool’s bunch of sonic terrorists) with some glorious jazz bass and clean guitar intertwining with each other and slamming in and out of distortion dripping rock guitar and frequently changing time signatures and just generally messing with your fucking head because you have no idea where this trio of demented French auteurs will take you next, musically speaking. Saying that, I like to be challenged and this is already not a record to be slammed on when you want to rage. No, this song is best savoured by yourself, with some fine cognac and some headphones, where you can bask in the frankly egregious levels of talent on display. The second song is entitled ‘Acid Rains’ and features the vocal talents of Arthur Brossard. This is where the record begins to confound your expectations somewhat, because the first track invites you to expect more of the same demented bass work and riffing, but what you get is in face some kind of desert rock/ psychedelic rock/ prog fusion of killer hooks, a fantastic vocal performance from Arthur who deals with some extremely esoteric time signatures with aplomb, a savage distorted guitar and a drummer who appears to be composed entirely of arms and feet and nothing else, such is the complexity of his playing. It does still float off into prog territory with echoey drums and guitar in some parts but always come back to the central hard rock element and absolutely slams when it does…
‘Closing Doors’ is more musical psychopathy that roams realms normally explored by Gentle Giant and King Crimson with more jazz fusion, but it is also bloody good fun as it expands minds and soundscapes with ever more intricate passages and guitar lines but essentially treads the same ground as the opener to the album.
The next piece of music is called ‘On Rase Les Murs’ (‘We Shave The Walls’) and yet again Baron Crâne confound your expectations and deliver a vitriol fuelled piece of music that harks, vocally, back to the days of the Judgement Night soundtrack, “Stacked Up” era Senser and Clawfinger with a heavily charged, socially aware and spittle sprayingly angry French language rap performance from a young chap called I.N.C.H. overlaid with spectacularly furious guitar work. Yet again, the drumming and bass playing are superb and I.N.C.H. does an amazing job keeping up with a band that appear to be hell-bent on stretching musical boundaries as far as they can and Baron Crâne can add urban music to an already expansive portfolio as this complex, living thing of a song is by far the highlight of a highly technical record because of the sheer power and throat ripping intensity of I.N.C.H. adding a magnificently grimy sense of urban menace.
The album closes out with ‘Fifth Stone’ and starts with the kind of paradiddles and Hammond organ that old folk dance the four square to before entering the territory of Tool (but with considerably more Gallic panache) of odd time signatures and muscular riffage before jazz once more rears its ugly head briefly and then phaser wah dripping soloing on the guitar happens before the song abruptly changes tone and returns to the central riff…then there is a false ending, some post rock noise, a mental bit where the whole band loses their collective shit, mad atmospherics not unlike mescaline fuelled Hawkwind jams before musicality returns and the guitar chimes gently over languid bass and soft drums. Then it goes into some of the chunkiest sounding guitar and slow paced metal, with screaming electric alchemy before dropping back and fading out everything except simple notes played on the bass. And then silence.
I basically gave you a blow by blow account of the final track just to demonstrate the sheer dynamism of Baron Crâne. All three are virtuoso level musicians, and although the jazzier elements sometimes threaten to overwhelm the rock and roll, they have managed to thankfully avoid prog overload. If you are a fan of balls to the wall, straight ahead metal, you’re not going to enjoy this record at all. If you like the left field, you will. If you like to be challenged by a record you will enjoy this. J’adore Baron Crâne!!
The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (Le système d’évaluation des éclaboussures de sang de Dark Juan) awards Baron Crâne a whopping 8/10 for a splendid record that unfortunately will only find a niche audience because of its sheer complexity.
‘Firmin’ (Official Video)
02. Acid Rains (featuring Arthur Brossard)
03. Closing Door
04. On Rase Les Murs (featuring I.N.C.H.)
05. Fifth Stone
Léo Pinon-Chaby – Guitar
Léo Goizet – Drums
Olivier Pain – Bass
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