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Title - Designed For Disaster
Artist - Yang

For those unaware, French composer and guitarist Frédéric L’Épée formed his first serious band, Shylock, while in his teens and waxed two now highly collectible albums with that formation in the mid ’70s; moving on to the guitar-centric combo Philharmonie, who existed from 1987-1998 and which produced a further five full-length releases.

Since 2004, he has been leading and working with the more ‘rock’ oriented quartet Yang.

The European quartet’s fourth release, Designed For Disaster — their second for Cuneiform — is Yang’s first to feature singing (courtesy of guest singer Ayşe Cansu Tanrikulu), although the use of words is “meant to communicate an impression and not meaning”, Frédéric points out.

A good example of this is the album’s fifth track, Words. Over an ominously martial beat, L’Épée and his bandmates shout single-word slogans: “Stark”, “Frei”, “Fight”, “Klang”, “Bruit”, et cetera.

These are almost, but not quite, drowned out by a barrage of distorted electric guitars; the effect is that an unknown and threatening authority figure is issuing enigmatic orders, with consequence for those who don’t obey. It’s eerie, and unsettling ... and it’s just what L’Épée intended.

1. Descendance
2. Collision Course
3. Disentropy
4. Interlude - Golem
5. Words
6. Flower You
7. Unisson
8. Interlude - Echo
9. Migrations
10. La Voie Du Mensonge
11. Interlude - Décombres
12. Despite Origins

This quite tantalizingly mesmeric new album opens on the tantalizingly melodic jest of Descendance and the aptly-named fervency of Collision Course and then seamlessly backs those up with the spiritual, otherworldly rhythms of Disentropy, the stoically-imbibed Interlude - Golem, the ominously phantasmal Words, and then comes the ornate prog-guitar rock of Flower You.

Next up is this highly impressive new album produced by L’Épée and Markus Reuter is the dulcet, yet always innately complex rhythms within Unisson which is itself followed by the poised Interlude - Echo, the near-eleven minute, and astutely vocalized Migrations, then comes the flushed ambiance of La Voie Du Mensonge, the album rounding out on Interlude - Décombres, coming to a close on the aura-imbibed majesties found within Despite Origins.

With Designed for Disaster, L’Épée’s compositions primarily have their genesis in Baroque music, minimalism, and of course the progressive rock he gravitated towards as a teenager, with King Crimson’s Robert Fripp as his acknowledged influence.

But there are passages on Designed For Disaster that sound very much like what Steve Reich might have arrived at had he been writing for two guitars, electric bass, and drums rather than for percussion ensemble.

But there are other factors that L’Épée, as Yang’s sole composer, constantly takes into consideration. One of these has to do with the group of accomplices he’s assembled: bassist Nico Gomez, he notes, has a gift for melody; guitarist Laurent James has a complementary ear for texture; and drummer Volodia Brice is capable of negotiating the most complex time signatures.

“What is happening is that every musician plays with his own personality, and I compose with those personalities,” he adds. “For another lineup, I would not compose the same at all.”

Frédéric L’Epée – guitars, synth, chorus
Laurent James – guitars, chorus
Nico Gomez – bass, chorus
Volodia Brice – drums
with Ayşe Cansu Tanrikulu – vocals

Official Purchase Link

Official Website

Frédéric L’Épée @ Facebook

Frédéric L’Épée @ YouTube

Frédéric L’Épée @ Bandcamp

Yang @ Bandcamp