Indie Music, Reviews

Les Friction is E. S. Posthumus Evolved (Review)

February 15, 2012 | | 6 Comments Share thison Facebook Les Friction is E. S. Posthumus Evolved (Review)on Twitter

After the untimely death of E.S. Posthumus’s Franz Vonlichten, surviving brother Helmut Vonlichten said that E. S. Posthumus would no longer be an active group. I feared we would never hear from Helmut again and that the world had not only lost one great musician, but two. My fears were put to rest late last year when Helmut announced the formation of a new group with lifelong friend (a “brother by destiny”), Nihl Finch and a singer by the name of Paint.

Les Friction released their debut self-titled album a couple weeks ago on January 24. It maintains much of the feel of an E. S. Posthumus album, but has evolved into something much more than just “an E. S. Posthumus album with vocals” – after all, that’s kind of what Cartographer was.

Read more about the album and the individual songs after the jump.

According to the band’s website, the background for the album is this:

The year is 2048 AD. Humans are now able to leave their earthly home and travel to other dimensions. While traveling, a shell of their body remains on earth and functions at a reduced capacity.

For most people, life is more interesting and entertaining in these alternate dimensions; however, having neglected their loved ones at home, society on earth begins to deteriorate. Anarchy ensues and the travelers begin to receive millions of S.O.S.’s from their families on Earth. Now, they must fight and struggle their way back home to save earth from certain destruction. Our story begins…

Unfortunately, when I listen to the songs, I feel that maybe only half of them actually tie into that story. So, I wish that either the songs were somehow more related to this background, or I wish the background hadn’t been written at all. Luckily, you can still listen to the songs and enjoy them, regardless of the supposed back-story.

The first two songs on the album, “Torture” and “Louder Than Words” were released ahead of the album and generated a lot of interest in the group with good reason.  They are two of the best tracks on the album. Combing the epic orchestral sounds of E.S. Posthumus with your favorite indie rock sound.

The third track, “What You Need,” however, is much more mainstream. It starts off with some soft piano and an upbeat drum rhythm. Bass and vocals quickly join in for the first verse before building up to the chorus. “We both break free if we make it on top / If one should fall we both will drop / We move together from here on out / What you need is what I’m about.” It sounds a lot like a soft, pop-rock love song, a la Lifehouse. But I suppose the lyrics could also be metaphorically related to the aforementioned storyline. Despite not really liking Lifehouse in particular, this is one of my favorite songs on the album.

“Here Comes the Reign” is a lot heavier. It’s got that dark, industrial sound that I loved about Makara. And then the vocals kick in, and I almost feel like I’m listening to a Nine Inch Nails song. Frankly, I think this is a strange juxtaposition given the sound of the previous track.

When my wife heard “World on Fire,” she jokingly asked, “Wasn’t this song on The Dark Knight soundtrack?” The song is pretty light on ‘music’ and heavy on ambiance and dark lyrics until the very end when the tension has built up enough for a guitar to come in for an epic, albeit short, solo.  Next, “Save Your Life,” can best be described as E. S. Posthumus meets grunge rock. It starts off very ESP-ish, with strings and string pads, then heavy percussion. Midway through the song, the tone of the vocals change gears slightly and take me back to the 90s. By the end of the song, it’s reverted back to the ESP feel.

My favorite song on the album is “Sunday.” I’d wager it’s also one of the most accessible songs on the album to mainstream audiences. If you made The Beatles’s “Eleanor Rigby” sound happy, it might sound like this. It starts, just as “Eleanor Rigby” does, with string chops playing a fairly fast-paced tune. Vocals join in quickly and build up towards the chorus. The song tells the story of a girl and boy who meet and fall in love and “live like everyday is Sunday.” The strings are constantly working up toward the point in the chorus where the two are living everyday like Sunday. It’s happy, and it’s just great.

This is followed by the slow and sad “String Theory.” The first half of the song is just piano and singing, both of which sound gloomy and depressing. In the second half, slow-beating percussion and strings are added to augment the darkness. The last half minute or so of the song is the piano slowly fading out. Coming off the fading piano from “String Theory,” “Come Back to Me” begins with a somewhat hopeful sounding piano. Then we get a guest female singer for the first few lines: “Do you hear me? / If I sing with angels / Will you hear me? / If I sing with angels / Will you cross the line?” Paint answers, “I hear your voice but you’re not here / I walk the halls and I’m alone / You’re not coming home.” This song is also sad, but it has a hopeful emotion to it. Through the rest of Paint’s singing, there is a gradual build up with some scattered electric guitars, and more ESP-like strings and percussion. The album ends on the sad (but perhaps hopeful) line, “Come back to me!”

In all, I really like this album. But I may be biased. For example, I don’t like Lifehouse, yet I like the song on the album that sounds like a Lifehouse song. When I had my wife listen to the album, she said several times, “You don’t like this kind of music.” My mind might be tricking me into liking it more than I should, simply because I’m a longtime fan of E. S. Posthumus.

But regardless, I think for people with fairly eclectic and open musical tastes – like the types of people who like chiptune and videogame music – this album is a real winner. I’m not sure it will reach mainstream appeal, though. For one, the album varies in style way too much. You’ve got a song that sounds like Nine Inch Nails, a song that sounds like 90s grunge, a song that sounds like Lifehouse, all scattered among epic cinematic music. I think that kind of variation on one album is just too much for most people.

But that’s okay. Different strokes for different folks, they say. If you’ve read through this review, if you’re familiar with E. S. Posthumus, if you like many styles of music, or if you just want to experience something epic and new – take a listen. There’s something on this album for everyone. It’s available from the Les Friction website.

Are you going to go out and get Les Friction now? If you’ve already bought the album, tell us what you think. Do you think Les Friction will be able to reach any sort of mainstream success?

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