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Les Georges Leningrad - Sangue Puro

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Artist: Les Georges Leningrad

Album: Sangue Puro

Label: Tomlab

Review date: Sep. 24, 2006

Les Georges Leningrad were plucked from obscurity and brought to half-light on the 2003 album Rough Trade Shops: Post Punk, a perfectly timed comp that explored 44 bands and found a lot of jagged similarity in two decades of music, concentrating specifically on the beginning and end of those years. Les Georges were among the newer bands, and among the more experimental. If the contemporary interpretation of "post punk" could be summed up in a word, it would be "taut." And LGL's sound has been a taut mix of screeched vocals, dry dance beats and electronics. The Montreal group balances harshness with a Gallic ludicrousness. Couching their music in masked performances and Dada artwork diffuses the graveness of their sound, if not the artiness.

Sangue Puro slackens their approach. There's plenty of swirling, muffled vocals and ball-peen drum hits, but the dance feel is gone. They've become more percussive and conceptual, and more varied. They close the record with a long collage that whirs and purrs through Throbbing Gristle atmospherics. The organ throbs and synthetic strings fail to add up to much.

The queasiness is concise and droll. Awkward rhythms define each song, built out of everything from electronic chirps to tribal drums. "Mammal Beats" throws nature show sound effects on a song defined by claustrophobic circuit bending. The elephant blasts and lion growls are the closest thing to natural, yet obviously an artifice.

And those incongruities run throughout. "Lonely Lonely" has a fellow lamenting his state in a voice so pained he sounds as though he trying to pass a kidney stone; a crude beat chugs along behind him, indifferent and not quite in synch. "Sleek Answer" is impishly obscene hip hop – English-as-a-second-language rudeness. It's delivered over an accompaniment that could be Blondie's "Rapture" played on a toy keyboard with weak batteries.

Sangue Puro is skittish in both senses of the word: there's a punchline lurking in even the most anxious moments. The material works both as song and set piece. "Eli Eli Lamma Sabchatani" works best of all. The title is taken from Christ's dying words. It's a chant, and they're singing in a language alien enough to be Aramaic. Guttural voices build in dread, until finally the spare drums spill over into bongos and howling breaks out. The vocal ideas are unnerving and ancient, but the bongos could have come from a beatnik happening. If it weren't such a peculiar pairing, it wouldn't be so terrifying.

By Ben Donnelly

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