Baron Crâne – Les Beaux Jours

Baron Crâne – Les Beaux Jours Album Cover Art

Baron Crâne – Les Beaux Jours
Mrs Red Sound
Release Date: 15.10.21
Running Time: 48:01
Review by Dark Juan
Score: 10/10

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.

TRACKLISTING:
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

LINE-UP:
Léo Pinon-Chaby – Guitar, vocals on “Les Beaux Jours”
Léo Goizet – Drums, percussion
Olivier Pain – Bass

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of ‘Dark Juan’ and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Baron Crâne – Commotions Reissue

Commotions Album Cover Art

Baron Crâne – Commotions Reissue
Mrs Red Sound Records
Release Date: 09/04/2021
Running Time: 31:20
Review by Dark Juan
8/10

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)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Firmin
02. Acid Rains (featuring Arthur Brossard)
03. Closing Door
04. On Rase Les Murs (featuring I.N.C.H.)
05. Fifth Stone

LINE-UP:
Léo Pinon-Chaby – Guitar
Léo Goizet – Drums
Olivier Pain – Bass

LINKS:

Baron Crâne Promo Pic (Credit Emilie Mauger)
Photo by Emilie Mauger

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of ‘Dark Juan’ and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.