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Derviche (Brochard & Favriou) - Murs Absurdes

Nick Ostrum, The Free Jazz Collective


Derviche is the unconventional French duo of Eric Brochard on electric bass and Fabrice Favriou on drums. Their previous release was 2020’s Derviche, which was a trudge through the darker and more rock-oriented fringes of what is covered by this blog. Murs Absurdes (absurd walls) is Derviche’s latest release and it pushes even further into those murky crevices that the likes of Mats Gustafson, Thurston Moore, Mette Rasmussen (especially with MOE), the Dead Neanderthals, and others have been mapping for a while, now. Derviche, however, has found a sound of their own. Murs Absurdes is unmistakably in the line of the previous release but is still grungier. I am not sure what Brochard and Favriou have been listening to, but I hear some of the slanted melodicism of Pavement and the frayed pop of Nirvana though without vocals and modified with a heavy underlying thread of sludgy metallic soundscaping. Tracks are divided into five “Sequences”, VI-X, but these are more movements of the greater album-length piece than distinctive tracks.

With that in mind, the third movement, Sequence VIII, is one of the most compelling. All tracks sound like a morose trip, with heavy looping chords and propulsive drumming, together evoking a hazy industrial dystopia. It has its nervous (Sequence VII) and energetic (Sequence IX) moments. However, Murs Absurdes really stands out on pieces such as Sequence VIII, a fusion of West Coast-styled droning melodies with uncharacteristically vigorous blast-beat drumming. The slow and plodding just barely restrains the restless energy simmering beneath it. Think Sleep with noise rock proclivities or Earth with less luster. For that matter, think Derviche’s first release with a little less sheen, as well. Sequence X, another prominent section, sounds a like the intro to Soundgarden’s Pretty Noose slowed and expanded into some demented psychedelic romp. And it is absolutely wonderful. If these influences are not conscious, Derviche must have just absorbed these predecessors’ work somewhere. They come from a different (musical) place, of course. But these echoes are too strong to miss.

Now for the elephant in the room: the instrumentation. Suffice it to say that, for this type of music, it works. Although Brochard stews on the low end, he has enough creative range to fill in above that and fill out the sound. Couple that with Favriou’s contributions – a tempestuous fusion of noise rock restiveness and desolate, metallic ritualism – and you have Murs Absurdes, a powerful and surprisingly mature sophomore release, especially considering the stylistic liminality it embraces.