De Type Inconnu are an improvising electronic duo spawned in Montreal that currently operate internationally out of the Kohlenstoff record label, a label devoted to avant-garde explorations into the future. Although inspired by jazz, the group’s rock-based instrumentation alludes to a slightly different sound conception, touching upon post-rock and industrial music in the open space. An overall commitment to darkness is occasionally broken by ambient beauty with melody replacing the violent atmosphere of the group’s more intensity driven tracks. Admittedly, the album is quite uninviting upon early listens. A very cool atmosphere invites speculation as to how much content the piece really encapsulates, however, the work is very well constructed with brilliant melodic developments occurring even in the track-list’s most barren efforts. Also, the group’s various electronic effects allow for many different aesthetics over the course of the project, making for a high level of contrast.
Beginning with a heavy bass hit with brooding distortion, album opener “the person (1)” makes an immediate statement, engaging in textural exploration with unsettling melodies for the rest of the piece. The second track, “Contact,” provides a near-immediate change from the first shifting focus to space with cleaner work coming from both sides of the duo. Subdued, ambient melodies begin the track with soaring background instrumentation complementing the abstract guitar/bass climate of the foreground. “Contact” is a fantastic example of minimalism with a song structure growing throughout, never losing track of the simple brushstrokes of the original melody. “ideas” finds the group playing more with textural sound effects with “the source” returning to the inspirations behind “Contact.” As the record progresses, the tracks become elongated with more emphasis being placed on repetition and droning undertones. On “genuinely,” a song spanning nearly seven minutes, an oscillating bass motion begins at the start, remaining a part of the picture for the piece’s entirety with guitar noodling floating atop the distorted foundation.
The album avoids some of the typical troubling aspects of improvised works by incorporating a lot of quick-hitting tracks. Each song feels like it has a singular focus, with purposeful decisions coming throughout. It is clear that the group wanted to go into specific topics with each song. Although off the cuff moments are more valued in the live setting, recording something and placing under a specific title on an album implies that it holds a certain weight and it is intended to be listened to repeatedly. By concisely exploring melodies and aesthetic spaces, the album successfully deems each track worthy of a certain individuality.
The group could do more in terms of warmth, perhaps by adding a rhythmic element. This does not necessarily mean the addition of a percussionist, but rather the institution of more forward motion. As a whole the album can feel a bit like stagnation, the ideas lingering in a specific location. Also, many of the melodic shapes develop around the same rate making the album dry on occasion. That being said the band thrives on their wide sonic capabilities. By playing around with the extremities of space and noise, the band is able to compensate for some of the contrast lost in developmental similarities.
For those deeply invested in improvised music, this project is certainly worthy of ingesting. Its contemporary take on the developmental structures of jazz provides a newer aesthetic experience and the group displays clear understanding of phrasing and contrast. Accessibility is always going to come into play when discussing music of this genre. Although improvising suggests an acquiring of taste, the group could invite a wider listener base by increasing their forward momentum; this album often dwells in a somewhat stagnate space. These issues are short, lived however, the album quickly moving from track to track resulting in a great piece of work.
De type inconnu are also certainly not achieving accessibility here and they could use a bit more rhythmic motion, but the album is quite well put together overall. 7/10