At some point in the '90s a strange scene begun to form, spawning from the adventurous nature of Gore and their follow-up project Bohren & der Club of Gore and expanded by the likes of Asunta and Phantom City. Taking the cool jazz structures, artists begun performing alchemical experiments with ambient music, abstract rhythms, drone elements and aspects of dark electronica. Artists such as The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble and The Mount Fuji Doomazz Corporation, Heroin and Your Veins and the Dale Cooper Quartet & The Dictaphones found their footing in this strange new form, and carried this dark, experimental path to what is called now the dark jazz scene.
Through the years Dale Cooper has become a prominent member of the scene and a great representative of the sound and ethos of dark jazz. It has been a while since the band released new music, four years have passed since Quatorze Pieces de Menace came out, with only a split work with fellow experimental traveller Witxes in the meantime. The new record, Astrild Astrild finds Dale Cooper rejuvenated, continuing to investigate the noir path they set early in their career, and particularly since their second record, Metanoir.
The band goes into great lengths to construct a noir atmosphere and feeling for their music, mainly through its cool jazz structures, but also through a series of drone themes. The most poignant attribute towards this end is the vocal presence, a focal point since Metanoir, which brings an old-school feeling to the work, giving a '30s jazz record aesthetic to the whole endeavor. The saxophone is equally sublime, shining through the setting, with its smooth delivery and robust presence, able to also generate some resounding long drones which morph into the record's ambiance.
The result is a thick ambiance, which expands slowly through additional elements and loops. This glacial progression is what also makes the resulting atmosphere richer, and the crafting of sonic space more precise and moving. The introduction of noise is injected harshly on top of the drones, adding color to the overall scenery, painting around the black and white noir takes. While Dale Cooper sets a tone that resembles a dystopian take of a pre-war bar in France, they also travel to parts of the Levant and the southern Mediterranean, a trick that expands the narrative of their story. Their sound is stretched even further, taking on a sci-fi quality, introducing spacey parts with psychedelic touches, as in “Ta Chassis Euplecte.” with a continuous vortex of noise evolving through the minimal notes in the background.
Extending beyond the noir take is where Dale Cooper is most formidable, applying a heavy dose of effects over the instrumentation, and even the vocal delivery, creating a surreal moment. It is the essence of their music: a band caught between times, not entirely futuristic, but also not stuck in the past. Considering the origin of the band's name, and given that there is a new series of Twin Peaks currently going, mixing the two together might be too much to handle.
8.3 / 10
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