“The music industry is driving quality down” – BRUIT ≤ on Death, Rebirth, Industry and Integrity

Image: Mathilde Cartoux

For the most part, the echelons of post-rock have remained safe havens for those wanting respite from the granulating banality of uninspired music and its related industry. Despite the genre becoming more and more popular with the passing of time – with Mogwai recently thrusting the often obscured genre into public scrutiny with their latest chart topping record – the related global scene is populated by creatives pursing artistic authenticity free from the contrives that plague the music art-form as a whole. Despite some naysayers claiming the more popular and successful side of the genre spectrum is void of modern day originality, the shadowed roots of the genre are fertile with creative originality; a hotbed for musical innovation occupied by artists channelling the sweeping soundscapes of the genre into new forms of sonic emotion. One such act beautifully showcasing what stirring art can be achieved when utilising the power of the genre is the cinematic French collective BRUIT ≤.

A somewhat treasured secret primarily known to those devoted to the genre’s labyrinthine underground subculture, the Toulouse act are a musical powerhouse of innovation that vividly showcase what can manifested when one amalgamates the drama of post-rock with deep rooted determinism and purpose. Released just recently, the band’s debut The Machine Is Burning And Now Everyone Knows It Could Happen Again is not just a breath-taking offering of sublime instrumentalism and focused dynamism, but an alarming statement of artistic intent. Throughout the four movements that compose the record, the instrumentalists subvert the genre by incorporating elements of neo-classical, electronica, post-metal, drone and gentle ambience into an intricately rich tapestry of emotion and globe-spanning sound. Whilst one can imagine that the band was created by a collective initially searching to create work that truly defies the constrictions of musical boundaries, the roots of the band stretch into more surprising territories; the sugary sweet regulated sounds of pop.

Related: BRUIT ≤ - The Machine Is Burning And Now Everyone Knows It Could Happen Again | Album Review

“The group BRUIT ≤. was created by Clément Libes and myself as a side project to the pop bands we were in”, states guitarist Théophile Antolinos when asked about the formation of the band. “We wanted to play music that was different from what our labels expected from us and we started playing only in the studio to test things. It was a kind of sound lab that was not intended for the stage and whose line up evolved over time. We then tried to make our first steps on stage and BRUIT ≤. was then a kind of noise, math and prog project, a little bit crazy.”

“That's when we decided not to just jam for fun anymore but to take the time to write music that would be more than just fun”, they continue. “We wanted to take the time to write so we wouldn't just roll out all our different influences along the compositions and create a sound specific to the project. With the release of the first Monolith EP on Elusive Sound in 2018 Bruit became a full-fledged project, no longer just a side project."

Whereas the group’s output harkens back to pioneering artists such as Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Explosions In The Sky, This Will Destroy You and even Boards Of Canada at their most sombre, BRUIT ≤ truly inhabit an oeuvre of their own that has been designed by hand. Each of the four tracks that form the record see the band delicately flowing through a plethora of soundscapes orchestrated through a multitude of instrumentally focused genres. As opposed to the standard collection of songs that form the standard album format, The Machine Is Burning And Now Everyone Knows It Could Happen Again is presented as the soundtrack to a dystopian imageless movie where the listener is invited to manifest their own desolate narration. Revolving around the ancient nature of conflict – an affliction that has characterised the nature of humankind since its long ancient ancestry – the album is a cinematic and audible documentary of the perpetual cycle of death and rebirth that our decaying planet has been an unwilling witness to. It’s an endless loop that has been accelerated in its cycle by mankind’s inherent nature, and one that Antolinos is keen to elaborate on.

“This cyclical theme on the album with death, rebirth and the conflict between nature and culture is inspired by the state of the world today”, they detail “I think that history allows us to analyse and decipher the world of today. Some bands are inspired by movies, books, personal things etc. We are inspired by the world around us through its issues: social, ecological, political...Nothing is better to think about these subjects than documentaries, news and demonstrations. By the way, the voice sample on the track 'Amazing Old Tree' is taken from a documentary about the ELF (Earth Liberation Front).”

“It is often said that humanity does not learn from its mistakes but this is not true. The people have often wanted to change things throughout history but each time kings or bourgeois states have crushed the beautiful popular initiatives. On the record we made observations of what the world is today like on 'Industry' or throughout the track 'The machine Is Burning', but we also tried to depict what could be the world of tomorrow with the track 'Renaissance'.”

"People who put "art" and "industry" in the same sentence are part of that degenerate part of humanity that thinks everything is for sale, that art can be created on demand in unlimited quantities like cars are made on an assembly line."

Whilst the band’s work is truly animated in the way it surpasses musical regulation and culturally-imposed restraints, what binds the band together and fuels their work is their long embedded ideological ethos. Originating from their previous lives in the iron fisted tepidness of tightly regulated industrial scale pop, BRUIT ≤. are a product of philosophical and political ideals, a unit that opposes the ongoing mass industrialisation of art and how many see music and art in general as a disposable commodity. Their latest album and aforementioned debut EP isn’t available on commercial streaming platforms, the group don’t perceive the new record as a collection of standalone tracks, and most importantly, the band work as a combative force against the toxic behemoth that the music industry has become.

“We used to say that the music industry is an oxymoron”, the guitarist elaborates when asked about their personal viewpoint on the music industry as a whole. “At the time, I don't know who the twisted person was who first used that term. To take two words as opposite as "industry" and "music" and force them together to create a productivist term, it must have been someone as sick as Daniel Ek the CEO of Spotify today."

“People who put "art" and "industry" in the same sentence are part of that degenerate part of humanity that thinks everything is for sale, that art can be created on demand in unlimited quantities like cars are made on an assembly line, that inspiration can be found by snapping your fingers, that "workers can always make an effort", that the earth's resources are unlimited and that colonizing Mars is a particularly urgent genius idea.”

“In short, the music industry pushes artists into precariousness and the streaming platforms prove it every day. Whether the industry is textile, food or anything else, it always favours quantity over quality in search of profitability, and I think it's the same thing when music becomes an industry. Everyone will agree that today the music industry is largely based on streaming. But artists have never been as badly paid as they are now. When Daniel Ek says that artists have to make more albums if they want to be paid better, he pushes artists to do exclusively home studio production (without recording studio, mastering etc)."

"Let's take an example: if I want to make a living from music today it's in my interest to record a large daily amount of poorly produced sounds on my computer with a MIDI keyboard to have a chance to make a maximum of streams on the streaming platforms. So the music industry, like all forms of industry, is driving quality down. There is a lot to say about this but I'll just quote a recent tweet from Peter Frampton: "For 55 million streams of, 'Baby I Love Your Way', I got $1,700. I went to Washington with ASCAP last year to talk to law makers about this. Their jaws dropped and they asked me to repeat that for them."”

“My feeling about the music industry is that the people who decide everything is crazy and that all the artists who proudly share their number of streams at the end of the year are no more sane. If Peter Frampton's tweet shocks you I'd like to remind you that having access to all the music in the world for about 10 euros a month is just as shocking. People who think this is normal are probably the same ones who think that giving your fingerprint to a smartphone is "cool".”

In an age where music is commonly viewed as a form of entertainment designed to cast aside and where many opt to create musical work that’s designed to appease synthetic algorithms and enforced conventions, BRUIT ≤ sound and feel like a force of positive change, one urgently required. The group’s work is intensely moving, possessively atmospheric, brimming with authentic human emotion and a vessel for a progressive ideological ethos that’s designed to topple the capitalist monoliths that cast shadow upon artistic endeavours. Whilst the post-rock echelon patiently wait for their return to the confines of the stage and while others see their ethos as a crucial rallying point against a fundamental poison, for the time being, Antolinos only wants their music to urge contemplation.

“We want to make the listener think. Our music is not made of lyrics, with choruses and video clips that tell stories, etc.. It is instrumental to allow everyone to make their own experience and we want each listener to make his own movie while listening to the album. But it's not only abstract either, we give tracks of reflections by leaning on the titles of the tracks or the samples of voices.”

The Machine Is Burning And Now Everyone Knows It Could Happen Again is out now via Elusive Sound.

Purchase the record here.