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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
C'est Mortel
C'est Mortel
Two Sheds Music

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
I often have to listen to most prog, post, and math rock albums for days before I have a definite opinion on them. C'est Mortel is an exception to that rule: I've been listening to it for days, but I knew I liked it since the first time I heard "Your Misfortune Is Our Mirth." Every time I listen to C'est Mortel, an endeavor I always do in its entirety, I notice something new and intriguing. Right now, I'm trying to figure out exactly what Devin Brown is saying on the album's third "track," the band's sole and short-lived attempt at utilizing vocals in this seventy-one minute release. At the moment my mind is still a bit too boggled by the amount of feedback used to recognize more than a few words at a time, but I'm sure I'll figure it out at some point.

That's the kind of record this is. C'est Mortel forces the listener to be actively engaged in the music, frantically listening for that greater understanding of the album as a whole, a sublimely rewarding understanding that just might make a lot of things clearer.

C'est Mortel doesn't make songs, opting instead to make thirty or forty minute "sets" the band plays live. The band's debut, eponymous full-length, boasts two sets, both live and recorded in just one take at Glow In The Dark, which I assume is in Athens, Georgia, in which Devin and Mason Brown, Brett Griffin, Tom Naumann, and David Specht live and play. Tom Naumann and Mason Brown are also both members of popular local rock outfit Jet By Day.

The first set recorded here is "Your Misfortune Is Our Mirth," which spans the first three tracks of C'est Mortel and runs for thirty-two minutes. Of the two sets, it features more dissonance and distortion, as it is a set more heavily influenced by Sonic Youth and Mogwai circa Rock Action than Slint, which C'est Mortel emulate more on their second set, "Magnum Opus." It has been said before that "Magnum Opus" is the darker of the two sets, and I'll say it's also more straight-forward and rocking than "Your Misfortune Is Our Mirth."

Just as impressive as the fact each set was recorded live and in one take (even though you'd never be able to tell from the near- perfection and tightness of the album), is that C'est Mortel can actually keep a listener tuned in for the length of its full seventy-one minute duration. Obviously, I would not go so far to say this record is accessible to a mainstream audience, but I'd still bet it can be entertaining for most anyone willing to listen. There are enough build ups, cool downs, and bursts of power here to keep anyone who appreciates prog, post, or math rock in any form engaged.

Reviewed by Jeanette Samyn
A contributing writer for LAS and a former music director WBAR at Barnard College.

See other reviews by Jeanette Samyn



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