Review Summary: How do you fine-tune insanity?
Gautier Serre doesn’t so much fuse genres as gulp them down and vomit them back up onto a silver platter for a bemused world at large. As hard-hitting, crazy and outstanding as 2017’s Savage Sinusoid was, one could be forgiven for listening to the odd track as a novelty, before dismissing the rest of the record, citing a lack of clear direction. More’s the pity, but this wouldn’t be unfair criticism. From elegant baroque chamber music to slamming mathcore via gritty dubstep wobbling and high-energy breakbeats; Igorr isn’t an easy listen by any stretch of the imagination, but there’s always been something praiseworthy to be said of how eager and downright fun the end result is.
You get the sensation that a number of artists would look at a follow-up record with something of a censorship filter. The talent within the ranks of Igorrr is undeniable, and a more straight-forward metal project would have assuredly been a safe option. And where crunching guitars and punchy natural drumming are brought more to the forefront on Spirituality and Distortion to give a somewhat conventional backbone, the end result is little shy of miraculous. This is not a ‘safe’ record. Nor does the addition of these elements make for more of an uncomfortable miasma of conflicting noise. Through an increased focus on songwriting, Igorrr have managed to create an entirely compelling journey from start to finish without sacrificing any of their lunacy in the process, or even giving the record something as pesky and unnecessary as a concept.
The artwork conjures up a mysterious Eastern flair, and between the lovingly performed oud appearances and snake-charmer vibes of some of the atmospheric electronics on ‘Downgrade Desert’, ‘Himalaya Massive Ritual’ and third single ‘Camel Dancefloor’, this flavour is explored beautifully. Elsewhere, some of the more instant glitchy and chaotic attention-grabbers found on Savage Sinusoid are represented in the form of ‘Nervous Waltz’ and ‘Musette Maximum’ (which, alongside ‘Kung-Fu Chevre’, features the return of the accordion used so enjoyably on that album’s standout track ‘Cheval’). The album also makes space for chugging riffs and breakdowns which appear not just as a centre of gravity to rein in the more outlandish stylistic choices, but to provide a rich, textured sound that shows their appreciation for the conventional metal wheelhouse.
Spirituality and Distortion is a product that very few avant-garde projects can achieve; the almost crass sound-clashes and bizarre instrumental choices don’t sound like a cheap novelty or an intentional mind***. Sure, even the most casual listener will be afforded a grin at an instrumental break or sudden switch in style, but the project as a whole sounds a lot less alien than it has any right to, and this is entirely to Igorrr’s credit. Step into the album, and you’ll be rewarded with chaos, undoubtedly, but more impressively, this is coupled with focus and identity that makes for a polished and comfortable ride into the depths of insanity.