An adventure which has the imagination bouncing around as enthusiastically as the body, Godforsaken Roads from French band Black Strobe, is an exhilarating stomp with more juicy flavours than a Pick ‘n’ Mix stand. The band’s new album is a tapestry of sound and enterprise which is as insatiable in its eclectic intent as it is contagious in its devilry. Seamlessly and inventively entwining fiery melodic rock and sultry blues spicery with a flirtatious electronic resourcefulness, and that brief description still only a thick hint of what is in store, the release simply lifts spirits and passions as one of the year’s most captivating and thrilling releases.
Black Strobe is the brainchild of Arnaud Rebotini, a Parisian musician and producer just as renowned for his instrumental electronic explorations released under his own name. Alongside this and a horde of remix work for the likes of Rammstein, Depeche Mode, The Rapture, Bloc Party, Nitzer Ebb, and Fischerspooner, Rebotini’s 1997 founded project has released a host of well- received singles and debut album Burn Your Own Church which saw its founder collaborating with Kill the DJ label head Ivan Smagghe. Live the band has equally earned potent acclaim, touring the likes of USA, South America, Japan, Australia, and Europe to great success and lighting up festivals such as Reading/Leeds, Sónar, Primavera, Pukkelpop, Dour, and Transmusicales. Now with guitarist Mathieu Zub, drummer Mathys Dubois, and bassist/keyboardist Benjamin Beaulieu alongside him, Rebotini and Black Strobe return with, we suggest, their finest moment yet, Godforsaken Roads.
Recent single Broken Phone Blues offers the first temptation and from its initial touch it is fair to say that Godforsaken Roads is in full control of excited attention and increasingly lustful emotions. An electro bubbling opens things up and is swiftly joined by the distinctive and dark toned voice of Rebotini. His voice has lured comparisons to Nick Cave and Johnny Cash and it is easy to see why as it sits somewhere between the two in expression and tone. Just as quickly a pulsating electro stroll adds its captivating invitation before guitars and bass align to jabbing beats to cast an irresistible canter over the senses. It is a virulently infectious electro rock romp which in some ways brings thoughts of The The and also Helldorado with its increasingly steamy ambience.
It is a tremendous start right away surpassed by the outstanding Monkey Glands. The track is an out and out rocker; again electro essences stirring up ears for a gripping entrance before vocals and riffs finding seeds in fifties rock ‘n’ roll which in turn infuses even greater captivating colour into the devilish engagement. Wonderfully exhaustive in its dramatic vivacity and hungry energy, the track sets a new plateau for the album which the blues scented He Keeps On Calling Me matches with its smouldering sonic heat and melodic intrigue. Bass and guitars take centre stage alongside the relentlessly impressing voice of Rebotini, the song a forcibly seductive yet controlled spaghetti western spiced drama standing tall like a mix of Nick Cave and Fatima Mansions.
Both Blues Fight and For Those Who Came on Earth Thru The Devil Asshole keep ears and appetite hungry for the album. The first draws on a steamy funk hue to ripen its sultrily woven blues rock climate, with the guitars showing a growl and bass a throaty predation to temper the flirty swing and electro tantalising of the track. It all unites in another ridiculously catchy and addictive proposition with a touch of De Staat to it. Its successor idles in on a slow melodic and vocal croon embraced by an exotic electro teasing within a portentous and ever darkening keys bred atmosphere. It is a compelling encounter which feels like it is brewing up to a major fire, and at moments comes close, but almost taunting the listener instead just ebbs and flows with an intoxicating evocative charm and intensity which is just as gripping.
The two triumphs are emulated and over shadowed a little by the delicious cover of Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues. Held in a transfixing electronic embrace only, the song is given an exceptional make-over. Rebotini strokes its body with an individual vocal delivery but the same shadowed irresistibility as offered by Cash whilst keys simply create a seducing beauty which steals the passions whilst keeping the unique expression and presence the legendary song has always held. It is a stunning offering backed up right away by the heated temptation of Swamp Fever, a song mixing acoustic and blues rock with electro elegance around one of the most infectious and anthemic choruses on the album.
House Of Good Lovin’ revisits a fifties rock enterprise for its agitated rumble of addictive beats and blues soaked guitar endeavour; think Muddy Waters and Joe Cocker with definitely a twist of The Cramps and you get another riveting incitement on Godforsaken Roads. It though only warms up the passions for Dumped Boogie and From The Gutter. Both tracks provide a masterful feet enslaving temptation, the first riding a steamy wave of electronic contagion and the second bringing a less urgent but just as enticing electro pop waltz reminiscent of Heaven 17 to transfix body and emotions.
Levels slip slightly with Going Back Home, a dance floor spawned encounter which still shines with beacon like strength within the album but to be honest is less appetising for personal tastes, but raised again somewhat with Boogie in Zero Gravity, one of two songs exclusive to the digital copy of the album. With a touch of The Correspondents about it, the song is a tempered yet persuasive dance which though not at the heights of the more rock infused tracks leaves satisfaction full.
The album is completed by Promised Moon, a song seemingly bred under the influence of The Beatles’ Get Back and on the digital version by The Girl From The Bayou; the pair further inescapable temptations without casting the same potency of suasion as earlier encounters upon Godforsaken Roads. They still add a fine end to an exceptional release though which simultaneously nostalgic and innovative as it weaves an epidemic of ingenious sound and body gripping enterprise.
Godforsaken Roads is released on CD and vinyl 6th October via Blackstrobe Records/K7 Records and digitally @ https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/id903413308
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