Ste-Sophie - Le Vent des Amplis Souffle Mille Bougies (Pink Triforce Tapes 2xCS)
Probably one of the heppest local sweaty jamz I picked up some time last year and I never even got a chance to review it, much less give it a proper listen. So I rectified that situation tonight. Unfortunately in that span of time between now and when I picked up this tape, it looks like the label that released it folded/mutated and the band when on a kind of hiatus (although they never were a 100% regular unit in the first place). If you held your knuckles to my temples I would tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that Ste-Sophie are one of the absolute best unfamous acts going (I don't count celebrities like the Arcade Fire and Godspeed) and deserve their time to shine in Spin magazine just like all the rest. Seeing as how you might not know them I feel like I should do the introducing but I don't really know em either, only in passing. I think the three dudes involved are named Jacob, Francis and Olivier although I have a pretty terrible memory so maybe one's named Gordon or Ebeneezer and I'm just flaking. But I remember the faces and I can tell you for certain that they are three very likeable gentlemen and very much worthy of being on the receiving end of your finances, if you can find a way to get it to them. This double-decker is limited to 50 copies and I've got no clue where you can secure a copy. That goes for the two (I think?) CD-Rs they released before this, which may or may not have had names. But the good news is that I hear there's some sort of vinyl long-player, or split, in the works so I'll be sure to tell you all about that when the day comes.
While we're waiting for said day, I'll take the opportunity to tell you about "Le Vent des Amplies Souffle Mille Bougies" which pretty much translates to "the wind of the amplifiers blows out thousands of candles"...generally. It loses something. Apt title indeed, especially if you've seen Ste-Sophie play which I've been un/fortunate enough to on a couple of different occasions. In fact the best gig I saw was when they opened for GHQ and the Magik Markers, some time last year I guess. The set up is, the three dudes lay their gear out on the floor in front of them and play from their knees, but this time they were sourcing all their sounds (or most of them anyways) from eachothers screams. It ruled. Three dudes screaming like banshees, at first you think "this is the most obnoxious shit ever and Fluxus ain't coming back brothers" but they're really onto something, especially the way they take those screams and turn em into something horribly beautiful. The chowderskull in front of me took a more reserved response, telling his friend something to the effect of "this is fucking gay" in between plugged and unplugging his ears. Yes, we had a gay time indeed. Even Pete Nolan was digging! Or pretending to. Anyway I tell the tale because it kinda helps lay the groundwork for what you find on "Le Vent", albeit in more subdued form. The voices are very much the basis for a lot of what you hear in the trio's sexily sculpted droning landscapes, but it isn't all full-force and nipples-nailed-to-the-table. Best I can come up with is the sound of babies being born underwater mixed with whatever operas Bob Ashley's performing for you while you take an around-the-globe tour searching for Planet X. Or early Hototogisu sides melted down in a steel kettle on the stove with a pinch of Schnitzler and th' Dream or Hermann Nitsch's "Harmoniumwerk" series, and then pouring out the solution for use as contact lens fluid. All four sides sound pretty well equal (in fact sometimes I think the second side is just a repeat of the first side but who's to say): delicate ribbons of vocal meowing and crying congealing and expanding around a suspended sphere or two of hot, waxy, found-sound gloop. The proverbial musical lava lamp. Later sides seem to diminish the emphasis on vocals somewhat and a howling wind vibe takes over like living in a snow globe or surviving crystallization first-hand. Or the soundtrack of abandoned carnivals' haunted houses coming to "life" post-midnight. Or just a really rad set of tapes that makes a whole lot of something out of nothing in particular. Although I will concede that it works better live at full volume and I could've been down with this material on a CD(-R) for maximum blissin', no side-changing required. Ah well, it's time for "hang on, lemme switch sides" to re-enter the lexicon anyway, it's been far too long. Why just recently I was talking to a professor who was borderline shocked that I was still buying tapes, much less vinyl records! Perseffer, have you heard of a band called Ste-Sophie? They play Journey covers. They're a Journey cover band. Oh, they're a Journey all right...!