Review Summary: L’un san l’autre is a unrelenting, dissonantly beautiful and brooding album that defines the genre beyond surface value. For fans of Envy, Daitro, CTTS, this is a must listen.
Okay I’m going to come clean here, I’m not all too familiar with the whole emo scene, let alone the European emo scene and I’m also not too confident about the history of emo, but I know a decent band when I hear it. But when I’m scouting for new bands, I’m very instinctive about what I like with bands that experiment within the boundaries a particular genre, but more importantly with bands that experiment outside of a genre. I feel that the whole emo scene recently has exploded into a foray of creative exploration, particularly since bands like Circle Takes the Square and Hot Cross which have had a resounding impact on modern emo. Mihai Edsrich, along with fellow French emo band, Daitro, (among other European bands) have taken the progressive and desperate elements of emo and have ran with them to form their own creative horizons and I don’t think they really care what transformations transpire or how far away they stray. They paradoxically keep the scene real by not keeping it real, by pushing the emo sound to new levels of desperation and thoughtfulness.
L’un san l’autre (One Without the Other) is Mihai Edrisch’s first album, and the album cover depicts a child sitting with her arms wrapped around her knees and a huge sky that looms above. This reflects the music nicely and helps establish the themes between the transitions from innocence to experience. The album opens up with Les Enfants (Children), a haunting opener with the sounds of children which flows into ‘La Pluie’ that explodes into a frenzy of distorted guitar and drums. The chaos is maintained as long as the track but then goes onto a deeper level than anticipated with ‘Et Pourtant,’ which is probably the album’s best song. The chaos transforms into a sense of desperation when the verse bleeds out of the preceding insanity to complete and utter despair, helped by the vocals that appear to texture the sound rather than just being about simply singing words in key or sounding angry. Mihai Edrisch does this a lot throughout the album; they build a moment, reach an invigoratingly rich crescendo, and then smash it down again as if it were not possible to maintain that explosive emotion for a sustained period. They do this with extremely good timing. Especially with ‘A demi-mots’, a track which is pretty much an escalade, built up using the same chords but adding slowly to the culmination and swirl of sound that is similar to the drawn out (in a positive sense) motifs used by bands like Isis and Cult of Luna. The band has the uncanny ability to create beauty from the dissonance of so many cringe-worthy chords that have been meticulously placed to create a vivid impression of desperation.
Arpeggio filled bridges seem to be a familiar motif throughout the album as well, with tracks such the title track and ‘Je l’appelai’, which turns from a highly energetic screamo escapade to Refused-ish punk authority. There are some quiet, thoughtful, and even brooding moments throughout that sometimes seem to be placed a little too contrived, and doesn’t seem to feel as natural, but that is probably the only downside to this album. But they act well as breathing spaces and it balances out the hectic flight of most of the other heavier tracks.
As for the instruments individually, the guitars are melodious and simultaneously destructive (in a good artistic sense) at the right places. Particularly in the most demented sections, the guitars remain on a distinctive direction. The drums are hard hitting and help build up a lot of progression with simple variations of rhythm from quiet, methodical drumming, to frantic urgency to almost math metal proportions. Although the bass is drowned out for quite a bit, it has some nice moments that establish atmosphere and incorporate nifty breaks such as the one in the title track. The vocals are actually not bad at all, and even though I don’t understand a word he is saying, the emotion emanating from his voice and his conviction of his screaming is commendable.
It is an incredible debut, filled with emotionally charged dissonant desperation that is layered with a desire for innocence that frames this album perfectly. The album closes with a solemn ‘Les Arbres’, which returns to the sounds of children playing but without the haunting feel as the lone acoustic guitar evokes a sense of the inevitability of experience. And L’un san l’autre is one hell of a listening experience. They are an extremely tight band whose songwriting lends itself to a sound that is dynamic and unrelenting.
I would think that if this was an American band, or just an English speaking band, they would’ve been hailed in the same category as the rebellious, but dead, Refused and hyped about by fans of the genre like fellow American emo counterparts, Hot Cross and CTTS. Maybe that is good thing, but unfortunately Mihai Edrisch have perhaps followed the emo traditional too closely because they have since disbanded since reaching their creative peak as their follow up sophomore album ‘Un jour sans lendemain’ is even better than this one. This is a must get for fans of Envy, whose sound is probably the most accurate comparison to Mihai Edrisch.