DALE COOPER QUARTET & THE DICTAPHONES - Quatorze Pièces de Menace
There is no actual Dale Cooper playing in this band from the French city of Brest, and therefore it goes without saying that this quartet consists only of three musicians. The Dictaphones also seem to be less an accompanying band, but rather a varied group of guest musicians helping out on the different DCQ albums. Quatorze Pièces de Menace again is a misleading title, as this third longplayer by the strange Frenchmen comes with only eleven tracks. But those make it to over seventy minutes of playing time.
I was rather fond of the band’s debut Parole de Navarre, which originally came out in 2007 on Diesel Combustible Recording, even though I only got to know it three years later when it was re-released on Denovali Records. One year later, I somehow overlooked the band’s second album Métamanoir, but this time I decided to spend some more time with their newest effort.
Basically not that much has changed so far, even though I dare say that DCQ have varied their stylistic approach. The main direction is still a chilling mix of Fifties cool jazz and David Lynch inspired soundtrack atmospheres, but the band is also open for electronic and industrial influences. This time we get guest vocals from Gaëlle Karrien (Yann Tiersen) and Alicia Merz (Birds Of Passage), but Quatorze Pièces de Menace starts with its instrumental magnum opus Brosme en Dos-vert. Now I always considered myself rather familiar with the French language, but the song titles on this album leave me clueless, as if the artists have dug out some dialect from an ancient secret society. And this fits their mysterious music perfectly well. But back to the opener, clocking in at twenty-one and a half minutes. The first five or so minutes feel like the soundtrack of a really dark film full of eerie atmospheres. Then an extremely slow motion beat with an effect laden cymbal join in, adding a cold industrial vibe. After good seven minutes, we finally get some warmth by a melancholy fuelled saxophone, creating a veritable dirge for the end times. More will happen, but I leave that to the listener.
The remaining ten tracks are shorter though, ranging between one and nearly ten minutes, and once again surprising with an unusually varied approach. The only thing they all have in common is a definite lack of cheerfulness, so it’s probably not the best gift for clinically depressed people. The dark jazz component is a common thread, but occasionally things get different, for instance with the garage rock song L’escolier Serpent Éolipile (and please don’t ask me what that means!) or Il Bamboche Empereurs, a trip hop excursion that sounds like Portishead on a really moody day.
Of course, with such a lot of music to listen through, you will find yourself sometimes more amazed than at other times, but the Dale Cooper Quartet & The Dictaphones have shown once again that the dark jazz genre can be really varied, if you are just open to foreign influences. The not so faint at heart might get a good dose of goosebumps out of the eleven songs of Quatorze Pièces de Menace.