In Focus: Uneven Structure
At The Monolith, we’re firm believers in the future of alternative music. No matter the style or genre, if it’s good then you can bet we’ll bang on about it.
Every month we take an extra special interest in one artist we think is worth your attention; an in-depth look at someone who is – or will be – shaping the future of not just their own genre, but music as a whole. These artists are the best of the alternative scene, and whether they’re signed and recognised or self-represented, they’re well worth your attention.
This month, April 2017:
If I were to ask you think of a famous uneven structure, nine out of ten of you would probably call to mind the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Although disputably the wonkiest building in Europe (there are a couple of German churches with claims on that title), it’s certainly the most famous.
Towers are, of course, notoriously difficult to build. The higher you try to build something, the more problems you encounter in keeping the damn thing up.
Here, perhaps, there is an apt allegory for French progressive post-metal outfit Uneven Structure, a group who have undoubtedly hit construction problems in their nine years together. An exciting band on the scene towards the end of the first decade of the 21st century, they’re only now releasing their second album, La Partition, six long years after the first – yet, it remains a notable event; a peak in the skyline of progressive metal, despite the sextet’s quietness over the years.
Formed originally in 2008, and based across France these days, the band saw its beginnings in Metz in the north-east of the country, no more than an hour from each of the borders of Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany. The city’s own structures are generally pretty even – in fact, it’s renowned for its architecture, including the Basilica of Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains, the oldest church in France and cradle of the Gregorian Chant – but you’ll find no droning monks amongst the band’s number.
The most immediately recognisable influence on their sound is Swedish giants Meshuggah; low tunings, polyrhythms and a cinematic sense of scale mark their music also, but they are no clone, leaning equally towards the atmosphere and layered grandiosity of post-metal.
Further distinctiveness is added by vocalist Matthieu Romarin; a real hidden gem with a delightful pair of lungs who is able to croon through the band’s gentler, world-building passages, and then turn on a dime to deliver hammer blows when a bit more impact is needed.
2009 EP 8 was their introduction to the world, and it was already pretty much perfectly-formed, as far as presenting a full sonic palette: a mix of minimalist electronics, the almost oppressive, engrossing mood, and those crisp, electric junz - oh so satisfying.
2011′s Februus – their Basick Records, label introduction – is how most will have come into contact with them. It’s considered by many to be an under-appreciated masterpiece; they skilfully upped the ante musically, whilst meshing it with high prog concept and poetic narrative. It warrants serious focus if you have a spare few hours – and I highly recommend reading our friends Heavy Blog Is Heavy’s excellent deconstruction of the record as a companion.
Six years is of course a long time to wait for a follow-up, and it’s been incredibly difficult to read what’s going on with the band outside a few snippets here and there – a couple of member changes will not have helped the process – but second album La Partition is worth the wait; likely to not only satisfy, but re-enthrall. Another hour-long odyssey, it plunges back into the same world as its predecessor, and is every part its immersive equal.
La Partition will drop April 21st via Long Branch Records, but before that we’ll be running a series of articles celebrating Uneven Structure’s past in more detail until then – and beyond. Stay tuned for the rest of April!