Written on July 7, 2014
Force Majeure (listen to a preview on Bandcamp) is finally here.
It’s the brand-new album from Chef Menteur, and it’s the follow-up to the epic double LP East of the Sun & West of the Moon… an album that many — including even some of us, perhaps — figured was to be the band’s swansong. New member Phil Rollins was recruited during live support of East/West, and continued to work with returning players Alec Vance, Dan Haugh and Brian Abbott to write these five new songs, the last of which is in three parts.
Originally conceived as two singles, we decided to perfect the arrangement of these tunes as live performances so we could just walk (or crawl, in the case of one bass player) into the studio and play them.
In the past, Chef Menteur has always recorded and mixed our own material, so this is a first for us: Force Majeure was recorded live to analog tape in one day and mixed in another at the Living Room recording studio, an amazing space across the river in scenic Algiers, with talented engineers Chris George and Daniel Majorie behind the controls, letting us focus on the performance and not the recording.
The first edition of this album (released on Waypoint Tapes) is on cassette only for now, and can be bought from Aquarius Records in San Francisco and a few shops in NOLA.
Here’s what Aquarius had to say:
CHEF MENTEUR “Force Majeure” (Waypoint Tapes) cassette 4.50
A while back, we reviewed a gorgeous double lp from a New Orleans outfit called Chef Menteur, whose sound was a gorgeously blissed out psychedelic sprawl, all drugged out space rock and hazy shimmery drones, brooding psych-kraut and lush pastoral ambience. We sold a ton, and figured that maybe that just might have been it. But finally, here’s a cassette-only follow up, and right out of the gate, it’s another stunner. The opener is a hushed drift, all abstract Appalachia, wheezing harmonica, muted chordal thrum, sculpted feedback, like the prettiest Sunroof! track ever, a sort of spaced out raga, pulled apart into something even more ethereal and abstract, gorgeous and meditative and dreamlike. We figured that maybe the band had shifted their sound, and embraced their lighter, more ethereal side, but then in swoops the second track, with a rapid fire rhythmic melody, some almost funky bass, and some swirling electronics, quickly building into a sort of psych-funk that reminds us a lot of Swedish outfit Goat, which is definitely not a bad thing. As the song unwinds, the sound expands, adding more and more layers, extra instrumentation, eventually getting pretty dang heavy, with some swirling organ, building to a fierce finale.
“Death Wraith 2000” is a much darker and heavier beast, sounding like something on Cardinal Fuzz, murky riffage, swirling psychedelia, pounding drums, the sound shifting from dark and tribal, to wild and noisy and seriously freaked out. The rest of the tape finishes off two more heavy psych groovers, the first a lush, slow building Godspeed style space rocker, with gorgeous long stretches of moody minimalism, between the more in-the-red bombast, while the second and final track, brings the organ back in, things get droned out and trancey, a little bit noisy, a sort of garage prog that eventually mutates into a gorgeous stretch of soft noise, before one final blast of psychedelic space rock crush…
And if you’ve read this far, and are excited about the album but cassette isn’t your format, we have more good news: Force Majeure will be available later this year as part of a 3-CD retrospective and unreleased tracks set to be released by new psych label, Sunrise Ocean Bender.