They Fall but You Don't by Mondkopf

Release date: February 27, 2017
Label: In Paradisum

Amongst Mondkopf’s most admirable qualities as a musician lies his refusal to dwell on the formula of his past releases. From the start of his career at the age of 19, Paul Régimbeau has been delivering one solid release after another, each of them carrying a distinct sonic imprint and further establishing his reputation as a versatile and talented artist. From Galaxy of Nowhere all the way up to the barren, volcanic wastelands of Hadès, Paul’s brand of electronic music has progressively drifted from the synthetic sounds of IDM and minimal techno to much bleaker, hellish tones and a more cinematic vibe. Marking Mondkopf’s return after a short hiatus, They Fall but You Don’t is an album that takes a decisive new step forward, away from the dance floor friendly, beat-driven tracks of the first couple of albums and further down the ambient road paved by Hadès.

The record features more distinct orchestral elements, sounding more organic and grounded than its hellish predecessor although none the less heavy in its somber ambiance. Pieced together from an improvisation session on the night of the 2015 Paris attacks, They Fall but You Don’t is an album riddled with the tragic circumstances of its conception. Through the use of his trademark distorted, low-end synth drones and glass-like resonances, Paul instils a hair-raising sense of unease, recreating the suffocating atmosphere that reigned on the day after the tragedy.

Through its use of gritty sounds resembling deteriorating magnetic tape recordings and its close tie to tragic events, They Fall but You Don’t draws a striking parallel with William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops, reaching a sense of grandeur that typically expected from the great avant-garde composers of the last century. The whole piece balances on the razor’s edge separating blissful ambience and mournful anguish. Background sounds like the parasitic rattling on ‘Vivere, Parte II’ and the cristalline resonances present throughout the album swell up and reach menacing levels, intruding on your intimate personal space. Your senses tense up at the slightest modulation amidst the haunting stillness of the track foundations. The echoing choirs and the orchestral vibe add a distinctly spiritual sense of catharsis to the piece, namely through the screeching horn-like drones on ‘Vivere, Parte I’ and the angelic choirs on ‘Vivere, Parte IV’.

Pacing-wise, the album manages to retains our utmost attention through its paranoia-fused soundscapes without wearing us down. From its heavy opening movements all the way up to the cathartic finale, Paul effortlessly guides our blinded senses through the records’ deeply evocative moods and cohesive progression.

Like Gus Van Sant’s Elephant, They Fall but You Don’t is a piece of work that carries a surreal and disturbing stillness and a nebulous, heavy atmosphere. Although hard to stomach at times, listeners will find a deeply rewarding listen in this epic six-part piece. Mondkopf has outdone himself, offering by far his most intimate and nuanced piece yet and bringing forth some of his most personal and grandiose efforts to date. A horrifying and striking account of trauma, beautifully and vividly narrated by an artist whose talent has yet to show its limits.

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