Gai Lan Reviews:
(original French): Tescon Pol Gai Lan (Concrete Collage) Gai Lan du duo Tescon Pol est une odyssée psychédélique dans un labyrinthe de pop électronique à la densité brumeuse. A la croisée des genres, Mic Finger and Ariel Johannessen composent une musique enveloppante aux rythmiques explosées, dérivant sur des horizons enrobés de noirceur et de fin du monde annoncée. Les titres cherchent à nous faire basculer dans un déséquilibre sensoriel salvateur, nous entrainant dans un ailleurs possible, où prise de risque et inconnu ouvrent les portes de l’inattendu, marchant sur des mines aux décharges intenses et hantées….
Tescon Pol, a duo consisting of Ariel Johannessen and Mic Finger, invite their audience on a long sonic journey through their new album Gai Lan, which merges a dozen of musical styles together into a unique combination.
Each of the ten tracks, being six minutes long on average, creates its own glitchy soundscape, that is thrilling and sometimes frightening to wander around. The sound of Tescon Pol is reminiscent of Download’s experiments with IDM and EBM, but their tracks are more repetitive, and this is probably due to the rhythmic noise and illbient influence that can be heard on Myriapoda, Cathodica and Gailan through various sonic stratums. The images they invoke are not murky or industrial, instead they are integrated into techno-biological sonic fiction ensembles. The album itself could be lived through as a post-futuristic trip into a closed-circuit system, analogous to the world we inhabit, no matter how open it may seem.
This can be illustrated through the most intriguing tracks of the album, those that feature Mic Finger’s vocals, gentle and detached at the same time. They definitely share some distinct late Coil vibes with the musical pieces of their contemporary, Sam Shackleton, and also help one better grasp the overall feeling that the album conveys. These tracks add to the techno-biological sonic imaginaries (one could go as far as to assume that Gai Lan itself, being Chinese broccoli, is a witty nod to Coil’s track Broccoli that transplants it into a new, uncanonical cyberpunk context), but they lack Coil’s feeling of transcendentality. In Coil’s world one would dissociate and go to the next level (technology being the accelerator of this ascent), whereas in post-Coil works, Gai Lan being one the examples, one is drowning in an endless stream of sonic intensities, that have no other meaning but the transmission itself. The voice is the derivative of this movement, emerging only accidentally and murmuring some abstract lines, in which one wants to hear a promise for a spiritual transformation.
Tescon Pol Does Not Make What You Might Call “Happy, Fun-Time” Music
In fact, there’s no other act in the Triangle that better embodies the meticulous musical brutalism of Einstürzende Neubauten or Front 242. Shadowy, alluring, earnest, and often punishing, this is hardly the sort of music you’d expect to light up central North Carolina on a Saturday night.
However, about 100 seconds into “Via”—the opening track on Tescon Pol’s first full-length, Gai Lan, out on French label Concrete Collage—queasy atonality gives way to a muscular synth groove that an electronic dance pioneer like Gary Numan would have killed for back in the day. The moment doesn’t linger, but it genuinely rocks. And like all the surprising nods to pop music on this tenebrous debut, it’s thrilling.
The haunting “greyforms’’ showcases Finger’s baritone. It wants for some modulation, but it’s undeniably effective among the swaying synth pads and computerized crackle, and could easily get the denizens a goth club slow-dancing together.
In keeping with the bloodthirsty traditions of industrial music, Tescon Pol can be unsettling. “Myriapoda” floats through a vast industrial sewer—with liquid bass tones collecting into a subterranean throb—only to emerge into “Cathodica,” a science-fiction landscape of ambulatory machinery and shrieking robotic birds.
“Waiting So Long” is slightly more playful, its sampled vocal stab and pinging percussion suggesting a disco song spun in a blender. And “Girl in the Adjoining Room, Yesterday” plays like the “fun” side of the IDM canon, before dissolving into a mechanized glitchscape.
But it’s “Gailan” that’s the biggest revelation here, invigorating and weirdly accessible. A mannered trip-hop beat pushes steadily through a surging river of noise that threatens to wash the listener away, but has the politesse to hold back until the very end.