Last spring, while perusing some of the new metal releases featured on Youtube, I came across a video that didn’t quite fit the mold, in a ‘one of these things is not like the other’ kind of situation. Elements like hardcore electronic beats, operatic vocals, and classical guitar aren’t totally unexpected in a metal context, nor are costumed and heavily made-up actors and dancers. But the particular combination here was disorienting, made even more so by the aggressive editing, and very much unlike the more traditional metal videos I’d been sampling up till then.
The only context I had was that the Metal Blade Records account had posted it recently, and I had a vague sense of seeing the name “Igorrr” in my inbox. But that was all.
Igorrr, “Opus Brain” (official video) from Savage Sinusoid, 2017
I’d been intrigued, but then the memory of this Igorrr video slipped beneath my awareness as more new and more familiar albums demanded my attention. That is, until I watched the trailer for a film screening at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) and looked up the artist responsible for Jeannette‘s soundtrack.
Jeannette, l’enfance de Jeanne d’Arc (exclusive trailer), 2017
I’ll come back to Jeannette. But first…
Who or what is IGORRR?
Igorrr is a musical project, the creation of French artist Gautier Serre, first appearing in ‘official’ recorded form on the album Poisson Soluble, released in 2006. According to the Igorrr website, Poisson Soluble revealed glimpses of what the music would become – “classical baroque, cut up dubstep, metal sensibilities and sheer insanities” – but in raw primordial form.
Serre isn’t solely responsible for Igorrr, as the project seems to rely heavily on collaboration, particularly now. Where electronic music production was once the only way for Igorrr to materialize Serre’s sonic vision, this is no longer the case. Savage Sinusoid has been promoted as a “sample-free record” featuring more collaborators than ever before: vocals by Laurent Lunoir (Öxxö Xööx), Laure Le Prunenec (Rïcïnn, Corpo-Mente, Öxxö Xööx) and Travis Ryan (Cattle Decapitation); drums by Sylvain Bouvier (Trepalium), guitar/bass by Teloch (Mayhem), as well as accordion by French musician Pierre Mussi and by Adam Stacey (Secret Chiefs 3, Estradesphere).
Browsing for information on Igorrr online I found a range of musical terms in stark juxtaposition, repeatedly positioning the project as experimental and extreme. Listening to Savage Sinusoid, I understand these descriptions better. The album is itself a collage of sometimes vastly different musical styles and sounds woven together or presented in stark sonic contrast. I could say that I need more time with this record to figure it out, or figure out how I feel about it. I really don’t think I’ll understand it any better after 100 listens, but I expect I’ll be giving it at least a few more spins.
Joan of Arc’s childhood through an “electro-metal musical”
This year the Toronto International Film Festival screened Jeannette, the Childhood of Joan of Arc, directed by France’s Bruno Dumont. I went to see it. Yes, because I’m interested in history and intrigued by this young woman’s story, but it was mostly the trailer – the music featured from about 1:40 on, and yes, the headbanging.
Jeannette does feature a remarkable amount of headbanging. And it’s thanks to Igorrr’s music that I remained engaged through 106 minutes of strangeness that was somehow less weird than I expected it to be. It may be worth seeing just for a couple more minutes of the harmonizing headbanging nuns you can catch in the trailer above.
From what I can tell, Igorrr provided most of the instrumental music on Jeannette‘s soundtrack. (The film’s IMDB page credits the music to Gautier Serre, with three cast members, Nils Cheville, and Igorrr collaborator Laure Le Prunenec listed as co-composers.) But the movie is at least visually coherent, and its music only strange in that it’s temporally and texturally out of place. Igorrr’s experimentation is displayed much more clearly on Savage Sinusoid, where only “Au Revoir” seems, sonically, to remind me of the film.
Igorrr on tour
If you’re intrigued by Igorrr – by what you’ve heard, or perhaps even from what I’ve written – you might be better served by checking out one of the project’s upcoming shows than by seeking out Jeannette. Igorrr’s first North American tour begins this Wednesday night in Montreal, and if you’re in one of the few cities it visits, I expect you could be in for an incredible show.
1/31/2018 Petit Campus – Montreal, QC
2/01/2018 Mod Club – Toronto, ON
2/02/2018 Voltage Lounge – Philadelphia, PA
2/03/2018 Brighton Music Hall – Boston, MA
2/04/2018 Highline Ballroom – New York, NY
2/06/2018 Reggies – Chicago, IL
2/09/2018 Circo Volador – Mexico City, MX *
2/10/2018 C3 Stage – Guadalajara, MX *
2/12/2018 Echoplex – Los Angeles, CA *
Details of the Toronto show, presented by Inertia Entertainment: Facebook event.
Igorrr’s tourmates, Spotlights, are worth checking out as well: