Slift – La Planète Inexplorée: “Noisy and colourful”
Slift are a trio hailing from Toulouse, south of France. Along with other bands originating from the holy land of cheese and wine, like Catholic Spray (from Paris) or You Said Strange (from Monet’s beloved Giverny, and whose first album was produced by The Dandy Warhols’ guitarist Peter Holmström), they have been seen as the figureheads of France’s fuzzy garage scene, counterpoints to artists like Thee Oh Sees or Ty Segall across the Atlantic. La Planète Inexplorée (The Unexplored Planet) is their very first album, released on Stolen Body Records, and thus is meant to tell us a lot about the band’s sonic atmosphere and signature. And on La Planète Inexplorée that atmosphere is coherent and compelling, with each song sheltered under a structure of noise and psychedelia. For Slift, noise is like a canvas on which delicate fragments of many colours (a guitar effect, the use of the flute, a pattern on the synth) come to the surface in little strokes. Every element is part of this sonic mist.
The 39-minute-long record starts very energetically, with the rhythm section providing incredible propulsion. ’Heavy Road’ sounds like endless American roads and lukewarm beers, while its length (07:12, the longest track of the album) and the psych-driven improvisations in the middle give it a clear Krautrock vibe. ‘Doppler Ganger’ sounds from the outset more like a dream pop song but a wave of fuzzy guitar comes to correct this first impression. Throughout the album, guitar solos pour in to make it both noisy and colourful.
After the three vigorous opening songs, ‘Ant Skull’ comes as an exotic break, with percussion recalling the Rolling Stones’ famous ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ providing it with something of a ‘tropical’ effect. The two next songs ‘Fearless Eyes’ and ‘Trapezohedron’ stand out by their commercial potential, sounding more pop, with ‘Fearless Eyes’ particularly starting out like an indie pop song, even oddly recalling ‘Young Folks’ by Peter Bjorn and John. ‘Trapezohedron’ is clearly among the album’s most memorable tracks, thanks to its strong, distinctive riff.
Right before the two songs closing the album (‘La Planète Inexplorée’ and ‘Silent Giant’), 41 seconds of purely conceptual layers of noise soberly named ‘…’ give the impression of extraterrestrial life having been covertly recorded and sampled for use on the record. Both the songs ‘La Planète Inexplorée’ (the only song title in French) and ‘Silent Giant’ sound heavy yet languorous, with the sound spreading out in what we can feel to be improvisation. They suit the role of closing songs because they sound more serene compared to the beginning, like a dream that would fade away before awakening. ‘Silent Giant’, the very last song, ends with a staircase of noise and shouts of “Lonely road!”, echoing the ‘Heavy Road’ in the beginning.