Diabolicus Felinae Pandemonium by PyrapismeRelease date: February 3, 2017
Label: Apathia Records
To listen to Pryapisme is an experience in musical extremes in a lot of ways. The group empties as many styles and ideas into one song as some bands do on an entire album. It can be a challenging listen, but very rewarding at the same time. Let’s just say that this band will never be commercially popular in today’s simplistic mainstream music scene. But that’s not a deterrent to the French veterans, who play music without borders in all senses.
To describe their sound to new listeners can be a bit tough. There’s a real progressive electronic and metal backdrop which is the template, and add in an eighties-style Nintendo vibe with some blast beats and jazz fusion spots, and you can start to get a basic idea of what the group is about before fully delving into the actual recordings. Let’s just say that when the band suggests that this music is for fans of Mr. Bungle, John Zorn and Secret Chiefs 3, then I have to think that they really couldn’t have picked any better contemporaries. I’d also add in Frank Zappa from his Synclavier days for the electronic aspect of the group. And their love affair over their recorded catalogue with cats is a central theme that still continues at present, with many feline noises spread throughout their songs. Thankfully, with all that musical madness, the band is instrumental, which is welcome to me as vocals would take focus off the overall sound.
Diabolicus Felinae Pandemonium, by their own admission, is over three years of work, so the near hour of music is understandable. And in those ten songs, we’re treated to all the familiar aspects of the group that their fan base love, but on a larger scale considering their last three releases have been in EP format. The album starts off with ‘Un Max De Croco’, which shows that the same dizzying display of electronic fuelled technical prog is back in full force. Stand-up bass (courtesy of Matthieu Halberstadt of Ogino/Please Lose Battle) and various horn effects help layer their already demented sound that much further, not to mention vinyl pops and hisses for added effect during the quiet parts, and blast beats to pump up the sound. This is just as infectious and odd as I ever remember them being. ‘La Boetie Stochastic Process’ finds their way into some Asian influenced melodies, which is really interesting. The saxophone section in the middle to late part of the song (provided by Adrien Daguzon of Zibeline) and the up-tempo rhythm make for a danceable head-bobber. There’s even a woman’s sexual moans syncopated with the music in the last minute of the song, which has got to be a first for me upon hearing that.
‘100% Babines, Pur Molossoide’ has a mid-paced electronic groove that is the main basis for this song, with a litany of various keyboard effects thrown in to keep the listener on their toes. The song finishes with the relaxed purring of a content feline. ‘A La Zheuleuleu’ features video game music turned into epic progressive metal for the first part of the song, with the second half meshing progressive electronic tendencies before landing back into the prog metal atmosphere and beyond. The shifts are so seamless and done with such talent, which is a feat in and of itself. ‘Tau Ceti Central’ takes on a total jazz-centric approach with saxophone and tailored drumming pummeled with various electronic blasts thrown in to keep the Pryapisme sound in full effect.
‘Tete De Museau Dans Le Boudoir’ is almost like demented detective music with some weird cowboy western movie soundtrack as a backdrop, which moves into a lot of odd sounds with the familiar video game sounds prevalent throughout. ‘Myxomatosis Against Architektur Vol. IV’ gives us heavy riffs and guitar noodling, which is matched with keyboard craziness and feverish drum patterns, and it’s probably one of the more full-on prog jams on the album. ‘Carambolage Fillette Contre Individu Dragon Non-Decortique’ is a total throwback to 8-bit video games with guitars and synths thrown in, while ‘C++’ is totally synth-driven with drums, which gives me that Frank Zappa vibe that I alluded to earlier. ‘Totipotence D’un Erg’ finishes off the album as the longest song at over thirteen minutes in length. It’s a big amalgam of their overall sound, with all the best moments from Pryapisme’s various styles offered in this track. It would be hard to explain all the dementedness that’s going on in this song, but suffice to say that if you enjoy the group’s sound as a whole, this song will be totally satisfying.
It’s important to note that after all the influences mentioned take centre stage, there’s some great jazz fusion located underneath, which really gives more depth to the overall sound, and being a fusion fan myself, it makes me that much more excited to digest their material. And while this band is demented as hell, it’s done in an amazingly playful way, with classification for this band being damn near impossible.
My one gripe is that while this music is incredibly bright and brilliant, and overly technical and well-played, it can get to be a little too overwhelming at times. I think what worked so well about their previous EPs was that it was a quick blast of music without going too long, leaving the listener the ability to absorb all the madness properly, especially over repeated listens. I realize that this current album is the result of over three years of work, and they probably wanted to release it all at once, but it’s my one complaint that the music is served better in short to medium bursts, at least from this guy’s standpoint. But don’t let that deter you from enjoying the new album, because with repeated listens, I found myself getting used to the album length more and getting more lost in the material as I proceeded.
When it’s all said and done, Pryapisme keeps making experimental sounds that are for lovers of various styles of music, with the no-holds-barred attitude and ability to take chances proving fruitful to the listener, and showing us what’s capable in music when we really let go and have fun.