Médiocre Fin is a French project which creates an interesting mixture of drone and noise – the drone part being the repetition, and the noise part being the way in which musical ideas are expressed. This, to my knowledge, is one of only two demos released thus far, but its quality has certainly piqued my interest, and I shall be hugely interested in future releases (if I've understood correctly, they have a concept album based around a magical village called Thiers coming).
Despite this, I must admit I was a little apprehensive upon learning that this demo consisted of one 23-minute track – when done poorly, long drone pieces can be frankly nauseating, and not in a good way. Thankfully, this was not the case. Although the main motif around which the piece is based is, by definition, monotonous, it is created in such a way that it has a hypnotic quality to it rather than one which is boredom-inducing, much like the way that the repetition of riffs in Burzum’s music is endearing, rather than annoying.
Throughout the duration, said motif changes subtly from time to time, and although it is still obvious as the track approaches its midway mark to hear that it is the same piece – mainly due to the general styles employed – this motif has changed substantially, although the piece culminates with a full circle to something very similar to the original motif (which happens to sound surprisingly like modern iterations of Doctor Who’s tardis). These changes give a progressive feeling to the piece – not, however, progressive like the pretentious frolics of Genesis and their ilk.
Swirling around this, creating a veritable maelstrom of… well, noise, are simplistic bass frequencies and the odd bit of feedback – the only real melody to be found in the piece is a subtle one found within these bass frequencies. This melody is slow moving, and at times difficult to pick out, certainly without concentration, but its chromatic approach is similar to the way that Masami Akita, aka Merzbow, has approached digital noise in the past, although, being done in a drone style, is far less percussive than the ways of the Japanese genius. This is not to the detriment of the music; it is merely different, and variation is everything within the noise genre which has become so saturated with the proliferation of the internet.
Indeed, the only percussive element to be found in the piece comes from the motif, which easily blends into either the background or the foreground over time like the ticking of a clock, as the bass takes on a ‘wall of sound’ attribute, and is omnipresent without ever being overly relentless – the oppressive, claustrophobic nature that already exists in the demo might overwhelm the listener if the bass were to become any more pronounced.
The demo is not without its flaws – it would be a spectacular achievement if it were – for one, the whole thing is far too quietly produced; although this might be easily fixed by fiddling with a few dials, it would be far more pleasing if the thing were roughly at the volume of a normal recording. That said, it is best heard, I have found, at a moderate level, to allow the expansive soundscapes to wash over you.
Speaking of the soundscapes, however, the almost euphoric, dreamlike existence which can be afforded to the listener at times during the piece is frequently broken by transitions which are all too awkwardly done – there is actually a break in the sound at around 13:30, which certainly serves as an unwanted wakeup call. Although this breaks the monotony, to me, the point of listening to drone is to allow the music to carry you through dreams and pictures painted by the dynamics (however gruesome those pictures may be), and the hoppy movement between sections, particularly across larger changes in the motif, is akin to being woken up from a pleasant dream with a bucket of cold water and a slap across the face.
Thankfully, these two are the only major problems, and together do not detract too much from the overall quality of the piece. If you would like to be transported to another world for 23 minutes (including the starting silence to crescendo and ending diminuendo, back to silence – a nice roundabout touch), then you can certainly do far worse than this. A well-constructed effort, and I look forward to listening to their second demo, somewhat predictably titled Acte Second.
Download here (Mediafire).
Check out their official blogspot here (written in French).