Lable: Self Release
Members: Axel Wursthorn and Cédric Manine
This is a review for Sombre and it was a tough one to write. A lot of styles and voices were reaching to be heard on “Lindsey”, many sounds from song to song that it didn’t fit easily into a particular box. This is an band that wears their influences on their sleeves but those influences run the spectrum of all varieties of dark music. I find this lack of focus to be refreshing. There is a real sense of searching on this record. Some of the songs hit immediately right out of the gate, some of them fill me with longing for the possibilities. All of it stirs something in me and leaves me longing.
So lets talk about what I hear. This album sounds so clean and beautiful. I think as a scene that the trend in modern dark music is to pile layers of slush and effect just because we can. Sombre has the execution and production of a surgeon. It’s quickly apparent that a producer is also a member of this band. The hooks are very welcoming but the concept is simple and exposed. Cedric’s vocals are a deep and rich cadence that keeps within the melody and holds the structure together in almost the way a lot of bands use the bass line. He also has an effortless dare I say aloofness in the timber and cadence, it feels refined and existential in it’s delivery. I really enjoy the blend of Dead Can Dance, Depeche Mode, and most of all Killing joke for the sheer variety of sound. However what I like the most is the addition on modern Alt J trip hop texture slither mixed with panning orchestral synth pads.
Musically the feel is very retro and full of builds and tension. I feel like this album has another gear it is waiting to hit and I look forward to what that sounds like. The bass lines and percussion are crisp and driving. They flow forward and aft with Cedric’s vocals to create a frenzied and harried dance. I think the sound more than anything is hard to pin down which is intriguing and keeps me wanting to dive deeper. This album always feels like it is running somewhere new and that motion is what builds the excitement.
The lyrics lean more towards an expression rather than a metaphor. I found it easier to relate to for this. I am really finding a lot of appreciation for the freedom of a totally independent release. Again the subject matters really stretched from the romantic to the societal power dynamics. One thing that tied them together was the genuine nature. Where someone tells you their story directly from their hearts without anyone to answer to. That’s what captures me here.
Stand out Tracks:
Find the Light – This has that Duran Duran pop chorus and layered harmony with a Happy Mondays dancing bass line. The song has a lot of builds and falls. With Cedric’s rich warm vocal tone crooning in a sensual and charismatic verse just to be offset by that large build chorus. Silence burns holy night removes the veil from your face.
Black Twin Skins – This has an 80s almost prog feel that reminds me of everything the Church did well. It’s very dynamic but the layers pull and push to create movement. The vocals come way to the front and are very exposed. Cedric’s singing finds a way to carry the rhythm and the breakdown is a masters course in how to fill within a pop hook. I love the guitar solo for this song. Very slush 90s shoegaze. “We are to young to remain alone, the fear chills us to the bone”
The Master – What a non sealant effortless groove. This song slithers for lack of a better word. You can feel it moving back and forth through you. These drums are shadowed and echoing reminding me again of Happy Monday’s. I love the whispered echo vocals.
Lindsey – The title track stands above all others. This beautiful harmony with a second higher voice for the perfect capture of everything Sombre is bringing to the table. The lifting and lovely voice is dancing on top of Cedric’s rich baritone. The pop hook chorus is one that locks your mind up and repeats. The strange reversed vocals mixed with the heart beat drums. Just a complete anthem of artistic expression and accessible pop sensibility. A +