Well, what were we really expecting? You combine two of the most eccentric France bands on the market, PoiL and ni, and what do you get? Yes indeed, an insatiable orgy of prog, spazzed-out jazz, and maximalist art-rock. This is PinioL, and here is Bran Coucou.
Perhaps what is most remarkable about this startling debut is that, amidst the token intensity and discordance, there is a beautifully unfurling narrative and structure to the record. Semi-eponymous opener ‘Pilon Bran Coucou’ slowly develops from ominous cymbals and intermittent wah-wah guitar to a thundering dissonance of art-rock a la Sleepytime Gorilla Museum or Mr Bungle. The whole crew are on parade here: four sets of strings, two sets of drums and an eclectic array of keys; altogether squeezed and compacted into a thick, peaty coalescence. It is this masterful opener that sets the tone for the record, with multifarious overlapping guitar play, complex instrumentation and vocal brouhahas from what sounds like the Knights Who Say Ni. This is unmistakably two bands playing at once, but the product is one of immaculate precision and arrangement, which distances the band(s) from trite gimmickry and dreary art pabulum.
Overall, consider it surprising if you are not cornered into accepting the wonderful paradox surrounding this art-rock foray: the structure of chaos. The exceptional precision and craft under the well-formed guise of disregard. The carefully articulated order of disorder. Consider it surprising if you are not left unable to unravel the kernels of this delightfully enigmatic record. Consider it surprising if you are not shaken about by one of the wildest, wonkiest rides of the year.