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Thot - Fleuve (2017) - Review

Band: Thot
Album title: Fleuve
Release date: 20 October 2017
Label: Weyrd Son Records

01. Icauna
02. Odra
03. Vltava
04. Rhone
05. Rhein
06. Duna
07. Volga
08. Samara
09. Bosphore

“In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with present time.”: Leonardo Da Vinci

Water. Rivers, seas, waterfalls; all are astonishing wonders of nature and powerful metaphors as well. Just as sitting by the riverine on a warm summer night can be utterly romantic and restful, watching its calm and steady flow, rivers can also be one of most destructive forces of nature. And as ambiguous the nature of rivers can be, so is the new album of Belgium based vegetal noise makers Thot, Fleuve, meaning river or stream on French. With nine songs carrying the archaic names of nine European rivers, Grégoire Fray, the main creative force behind the band, has again put the beauty of the old continent on pedestal; but while its predecessor, The City That Disappears was focusing on the hectic everyday life of big cities, Fleuve is a presentation of what one carries inside, while in touch with nature, far from city life. This convey is nothing unusual though, as Frey has been focusing on his revived project, The Hills Mover, for the past few years and is musically quite far from Thot. While Thot’s trademark sound is still based on wild sonic distortion, coming from post-industrial and noise rock roots, with often underlying punk rock edgy charge, The Hills Mover is ethereal and sentimentally melancholic in a very minimalistic way. But being in touch with nature is what intertwines both worlds.
While I fell head over heels in love with The City That Disappears on the first listen, Fleuve comes far from that and it took me quite a few listens on repeat to comprehend the true aestheticism of it. This album carries some sort of heavy psychological charge, depicting distortion of mind through music - it is built on over the top, all around drumming, heavily distorted guitars, dense mixture of noisy synthesizers and a lot of shouting vocals. On a first listen it may seem too heavy to grasp the significance of it, especially if you know and are fond of Thot’s earlier works. But underneath the stormy sonic array lies its beauty and delicacy. Just as rivers can be damaging and destructive on one hand or serene and halcyon on other, Fleuve carries its duality and one can even hear the influence of quintessential post-punk acts, such as Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and even the modern sound of synth-pop legends Depeche Mode. Once you peer into the depths of Fleuve, you will find the symbiosis between the two counter parting worlds of it truly is there, hidden under the noisy layers of sound. The instrumental opening "Icauna" flows directly into heavily turbulent "Odra". For its quite opposite, "Rein" and "Volga" evoke a whole different set of emotions; tranquil, heavyhearted and woeful. "Vltava" and "Samara" for instance come as close as it gets to early Thot, and the ending, instrumental beauty "Bosphore" presents the grand closure of the voyage through the rivers, as it combines all of the aforementioned sensations in one lengthy and grandiose track. But this is not an album, to be dissected track by track, as the songs flow from one to another into one, portraying one story, dispersed in nine chapters.

Passion. This is what overdrives all songs in the end. Whether it portrays the gloomy atmosphere or the overwhelmed, volcanic side of it, it all comes down to it. Fleuve is very personal, intimate and very passionate album and I daresay Frey absolutely poured his heart, soul and uneasy mind into it. And so if I started with the words of visionary genius Leonardo Da Vinci, I will end with the words of Frey, written in the beginning of "Odra", capturing the essence of Fleuve in just four simple lines: “I collide with your rawness, I am squeezed by anxiety, I try to evade from this town, where you pushed me till the neck...”

Review written by: Ines
Rating: 8/10


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