Baron Crâne – Les Beaux Jours
Mrs Red Sound
Release Date: 15.10.21
Running Time: 48:01
Review by Dark Juan
Good afternoon, mes amis! I trust you are all carving your gourds, pumpkins, and turnips ready for the celebration of All Hallow’s Eve? I hope you all have your sexy, SEXY witch and warlock outfits and that your pet dogs and cats will hate you for the duration of it as you have dressed them up as bats or spiders, or some other outré outfit. Mrs Dark Juan and I are contemplating dressing up the Dread Lord Sir Igor Egbert Bryan Clown-Shoe Cleavage-Hoover as Pinhead and calling him the Heckraiser. Either that or it will be the matching sequinned pumpkin jumpers for him and Hodgson Biological-Warfare again. Never let it be said that I don’t allow the Smellhounds to enjoy Halloween as much as I do…
Which won’t be very much this year, as I have broken a fucking rib, having been rugby tackled by one of my young gentlemen at work. This bit of wrangling gone disastrously wrong was not (surprisingly) the result of said hulking young tough launching himself fists first at your correspondent (which, to be honest, is a fairly regular occurrence upon meeting me for the first time – just ask Admiral Of The Blue Beth “I’ve Got One Fist Of Iron, And One Made Of Steel, If The Left One Doesn’t Get You, The Right One Will” Jones, who had to sit on her hands to restrain herself from egregious levels of violence upon our first encounter. It is also the INSTANT response of young ladies when clapping their eyes upon my beauteous countenance, and hard, toned physique in order to control themselves, and the subsequent involuntary shedding of their panties. One of these scenarios is almost accurate and the other is a complete fabrication. I shall let you all decide which) and rather more because we were demonstrating different tackles on each other, and therefore it was a complete accident. Thusly, I have flung myself (gingerly and with considerable theatre) upon my chaise longue of abject pain and suffering, and am currently throwing the kinds of tantrums seen only by watchers of Axl Rose, and the parents of toddlers denied their millionth rerun of the fucking bastard furry (and therefore VERY confusing/ arousing to a certain demographic of their viewers. Also, Toyah voiced the yellow one. Toyah was my very first celebrity crush. This made me EXTREMELY confused about Laa-Laa and her watering can) terrorist multi-coloured handbag botherers that were the Teletubbies (NB: Actual autobiographical event from when the delightful progeny of my loins were growing up) and demanding vegetarian bacon sandwiches from Mrs Dark Juan every time she walked past. In response, Mrs Dark Juan has told me to “Fuck off because you’ve broken a rib, not lost your bloody leg, you ABSOLUTE drama queen” and retired to her craft eyrie, at the very top of Dark Juan Terrace, where she knows it will cause me pain to reach her, and I have been left to moulder in the First Reception Room with the hounds and absolutely no chance of a cup of tea.
It is, therefore, through the haze of agonising pain, that I bring you this finely crafted review of the latest album from French genre-bending mâitres Baron Crâne. You will all no doubt recall that I reviewed “Commotions” last year and enjoyed it very much indeed. “Les Beaux Jours” (“The Good Days” en Anglais) has a lot to live up to…
The immediate impression you get from the opening seconds of ‘Danjouer’ is that this album is a much more muscular record than the preceding “Commotions”, with some extremely punchy guitar work, and absolutely powerhouse drumming from guest tubthumper Simon Lemonnier (Wolve), after a droning opening, which leads to an almost pop punk slam into the song proper, which is a massively building, unstoppable juggernaut of Very Good Things all happening at once. This song stands as a rather intense statement of intent from this eclectic French trio. Influences combine and merge themselves into multi-coloured, fizzing new forms throughout the album, on which it appears that Baron Crâne have given up the overarching jazz-rock fusion of “Commotions” in favour of psychedelia, fuzz rock, and the kind of classic guitar sounds, and extended jams, that only come from colossal levels of drug abuse with added jazz abuse.
There are still lovely little jazz touches here and there though, not least on the title track, which, as well as being an almost ten minute epic, effortlessly stretches itself between Hawkwind style power electronics, jazz beats, languid, liquid bass work, and a VERY French Café Chanson vocal on the verse, and Tool-like dynamics and vocal (albeit in French) throughout the song, before it sheds its skin and morphs into its final form of mind-fucking psychedelic reality shifter. It really is a quite, QUITE breathtaking piece of musical perfection for the far-seeing fan of music. And that’s what I am. If you’re a prog metal fan, you’ll dig it big time, brothers and sisters. Stoners, too, will get it and be transported on mescaline fuelled voyages of discovery.
This is the story of the whole record. The jazziest song is ‘Mercury’ (featuring the midnight sex horn…. Sorry, I mean the saxophone talents of Gillaume Perret) which is a fiendishly complicated piece of music, and admirably showcases a band at the absolute peak of their talents. Everything on the record appears to have hit perfection. The song arrangements are sublime. The production is one of the best I have ever heard – pin sharp, with extraordinary clarity and magnificent power from the bass guitar especially, which rumbles and thumps its way through the sound in a meaty and satisfying fashion. Everything is very easy to discern, and when vocals are employed (Baron Crâne are an instrumental band) they are employed superbly and with power. From the point of view of a (a very very shit) musician, this record is notable for the sheer accuracy of the players, all of whom are frankly fucking astonishing – the musical interplay between guitar, bass and drums is just…. Well it’s fucking perfect, mate.
The second track, ‘Larry’s Journey’, amply demonstrates this as it switches from post-rock drone, to jazz fuelled metal guitar abuse, bass led shoegaze, and slowly building gothic menace, before the drummer crashes in in a very unusual time signature, and the whole band follow effortlessly and are tighter than a duck’s arsehole throughout. ‘Quarantine’ features the voice of Cyril Bodin, who offers the listener a superb, slightly gravelly hard rock delivery that the band build on with aplomb before taking a hard left turn into the misty hinterlands of prog for the middle part of the song, before his howl reminds us of Robert Plant, and the music and the chorus drags the listener back to the funky hard rock the song started with.
I cannot tell you how much I adore Baron Crâne’s music. This is metal (and it is metal, fact fans!!!) for intelligent people. The kind of metal fan who thinks that Avenged Sevenfold are super technical, or the fan stuck in 1986, and claims that metal died after “Master Of Puppets”, isn’t going to get this record. You have to have an understanding of music to fully engage with this album otherwise you’re just going to dismiss it as jazz-fuelled poncery. Which it really isn’t. It is jaw-droppingly stunning and vast in concept and execution. With influences from diverse sources (King Crimson, Tool, Air, Hawkwind and Led Zeppelin were some of the more obvious ones). It transcends the mere thought of music, and turns it into art you can hear. “Les Beaux Jours” is synesthetic perfection.
There I said it. The Chronicles Of Manimal And Sahara have a challenger for my favourite band of 2021. Sheer magnificence.
The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (le système breveté d’évaluation des éclaboussures de sang Dark Juan) awards Baron Crâne la crème entière dix sur dix. Full marks. Ten out of ten if you can’t speak French. Anything else would be a travesty, and I should know because I am one today.
01. Danjouer (feat. Simon Lemonnier on drums)
02. Larry’s Journey
03. Quarantine (feat. Cyril Bodin on vocals)
04. Mercury (feat. Guillaume Perret on saxophone)
05. Inner Chasm
06. Merinos (feat. Robby Marshal on flute)
07. Les Beaux Jours
Léo Pinon-Chaby – Guitar, vocals on “Les Beaux Jours”
Léo Goizet – Drums, percussion
Olivier Pain – Bass
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