French outfit with Polynesian influence
With a breathless singular collective vision, QuinzeQuinze merge the oral storytelling traditions of French Polynesia (ōrero) with synthesisers and virtual studio technology. The Parisian five-piece, who formed in 2013, also achieve a textural unworldliness by bringing in long-established instrumentation such as steel drums and the percussive tō’ere. ‘VĀRUA’, their latest EP, is a sonic concoction that comes from across the ages and connects places separated by continents and oceans, with all the blissful strangeness and beautiful dissonance you might expect from such exotic cross-pollination. Imagine Yves Tumor covering Japan’s ‘Tin Drum’ album and you’re a quarter of the way there.
QuinzeQuinze are hard to peg. Three EPs – 2018’s ‘Neva Neva’, 2020’s ‘LE JEUNE’ and this year’s ‘VĀRUA’ – tell a story of ongoing precision and perfectionism. ‘Le Soleil’, from the latest offering, is foreboding and erratic, a tapestry of controlled chaos which has been seriously tweaked and manipulated. The title ‘VĀRUA’ is the Tahitian word for soul or spirit (two band members are originally from the South Pacific island) and comes from the word Vārua’ino, which can mean evil spirits or storm clouds or rainbows, giving you some insight into where QuinzeQuinze are coming from.
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In full knowledge that they defy categorisation, the band have created a genre for themselves – “climatic” music – which describes their ever-evolving sound. Avant-pop might also loosely fit them, though they’re not afraid of dabbling in mainstream pop either – ’Muse’, with its syncopated consonants and drawn out vowels at the end of sentences, is redolent of their highly successful compatriot Héloïse Létissier aka Christine And The Queens. If mystical, ambient, digital R&B with an undercurrent of radicalism sung in different languages is your thing, then QuinzeQuinze could just be your lucky number.
‘VĀRUA’ is out on S76