Published May 01, 2015Paris-based post-rock outfit Oiseaux-Tempête released their self-titled debut album in 2013, and the foundation laid there has been built upon by its follow-up, ÜTOPIYA?. Their last album was intrinsically tangled with the politics of Greece, its collection of field recordings synched with its production, but the group entered the studio for ÜTOPIYA? first, with Benoît Bel recording the whole thing over the course of three days in Lyon. Afterwards, those live sessions were linked with the sound and feel of Istanbul and Sicily, to add the simmering urgency to their free-jazz- and Krautrock-inflected improvisations.
The new arrival of bass clarinettist Gareth Davis altered the dynamic of the group slightly, too, pushing the role of Stéphane Pigneul towards different sounds, adding drum machine and electric/acoustic guitars to his credits on this album, while Ben McConnell keeps on the drums and Frédéric D. Oberland works the keys, guitar, alto sax and field recordings. Its sense of drama is heightened by the appearance of G.W. Sok (former frontman of the Ex), who lends guest vocals on "Ütopiya / On Living" in reading a Nâzim Hikmet poem, as well as a Mellotron flute-led interpretation of Giorgio Moroder's Scarface theme called "Requiem for Tony." The sax and noise-laced crescendo of "Someone Must Shout That We Will Build the Pyramids," meanwhile, is as epic as anything Godspeed You! Black Emperor ever did. Cinematic, political, dynamic and nuanced: this is post-rock at its best. (Sub Rosa)