This short-lived project was the brainchild of Luc Marianni (keyboards) and Jean-François Papin (guitars, bass). Before embarking on a phenomenal sonic journey, both were apparently music journalists in France. They proposed cunningly knotted electronic instrumentals, seamlessly segueing magnetic narratives punctuated by intelligent use of intriguing excerpts from popular media and elegant multitracking. The tireless torrent of mysterious fantasias would undergo scale invariant dilation in which contrived electronic parameters sound almost spontaneous.
The experimental duo, accompanied by additional musicians, left two records. Luc Marianni later recorded solo, initially employing an equally tasteful, ionized medium.
The LP begins at the very low end of the dynamic range. From the silence burgeons acoustic piano (Patricia Albertini), and then electric organ. Suave guitar interrogates this combination. A different, psycho-acoustic guitar cascades idly in an empty room. Tardily, this amorphous, ambient wave becomes more audible. A lethargic, mid-afternoon synthesizer swings drowsily. A sudden swat from a hand drum and a tense, yet still apathetic guitar line notify us of the impending mutations. Poorly tuned second guitar struggles to echo this note. When it fails, it is substituted by a more determined guitar in a (Snakefinger-ish) higher range. An obsessive piano supplies the rhythm in fours. We observe an increasingly emotional dialogue between the two guitars – one chaotic and hysterical, the other one posed and rational. They alternate in their statements, but sometimes try to dominate the exchange. The holistic dynamic swells minimalistically – striking roots in the proximity of a surreptitious keyboard scale. At least two of the three instruments patronize the beat, but it is up to an intrusive organ chord passage to bring a rhythmic change. The tempo doubles. The regularity remains, but the proportions change. The drum will always be there, unobtrusive, but unequivocal. ‘Residential’, wordless sloganeering introduces a menace. The fuzzed guitar improvises freely against the organ/piano rhythm pattern. If Thierry Muller used such hydroplaning rhythmic loops then this is how his Ilitch could have evolved. An echoing vocal cuts through this electro-sphere, but only to emphasize the increasingly fast guitar phrasing. Endlessly interlocking guitar vortices are too fast to be trippy and too extramundane to be tribal. But they sure are hypnotic. A form of hyper-competitive systemic bravura for cyber dervishes ? Finally, a murky, but carefree piano exercise slows things down. Austenitic steel strings and a prosaic rhythm box patting take a while to vanish underneath.
Here again, acoustic piano opens, effete and inarticulate. It is joined by blithe percussion. A tragic biographical text is being read, but breaks down in mid-sentence. A tranquil piano theme continues in autumnal mode, without ever developing into a hummable tune. A very 1980s’ (Wire, Cure) manipulated guitar synchronizes with the piano, somewhat superfluously. The permeable piano turns nonchalant whereas the occasional texts become warbled and indistinguishable. Synthesized percussive effects swish around. Anti-melodic, detached vocal hesitates between DDAA-like condensation and Damo Suzuki’s manic stress on second syllable. The keyboard cum piano theme is now almost pastoral, never too far from Dominique Lawalree’s ‘nonbient’ creations. More abstract passage will juxtapose the same downcast piano and earnestly alarming, highly pitched electric guitar. Many tapes will be overlaid here – microtonal slices of synthesizer, doubtful choral wailing, a grandfather clock, ceremonial children’s choirs, deviant Hawaiian guitars. This cut is dedicated to German band Faust.
The LP ends with this short vignette for sustained notes of a dim, muzzled organ and water droplets. Slowly unfolding, almost phlegmatic acoustic guitar explores this register, enveloping something of a refrain. But each reprise will differ slightly, until the eventual extinction.
Rock Critics left only two oeuvres and several contributions to early 1980s’ compilations. Luc Marianni’s early solo recordings are equally recommended, even though their rhythmic structures are less pronounced. Sonic Asymmetry will return to these recordings one day.
ROCK CRITICS: “Pile ou face” (1980)
Luc MARIANNI: “Souvenir du future” (1980)
ROCK CRITICS: “TV Show” (1982)
Luc MARIANNI: “DG Portrait” (1982)
Luc MARIANNI: “Voyage vers l’harmonie” (1982)
MARIANNI-DEMOURON-PITRON-VIAUD: “Four French Forms” (1985)
Luc MARIANNI: “Six Synthetic Suites” (1985-1986)
Marianni continued to record, but what I heard from his later output was too embarrassing to be included here.