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Rougge – Monochrome.

August 27, 2015
  • Label: Volvox Music.
  • Year: 2015.
  • Style: Sombre neoclassical.
  • Format: CD / Digital.

Listening to this album is nostalgic for me, eventhough it’s the first time I hear it. Back when I started The Shadows Commence, ROUGGE was one of the frist artists I got in contact with and one of the first ones to send me a promo for review. And now, as I am slowly returning from a 4 year break in updating the site, it correlate so well with the second release from this Paris based indie neoclassicalist.
I remember being pretty much in awe over the fact that ROUGGE sang to his piano compositions without using words. At least not words from any language anyone understand beside ROUGGE himself probably. It’s not quite chants or any kind of glossolalia, it actually sounds like a proper language, that isn’t a proper language. I might have been so confused by this back then, I almost forgot to pay attention to the music, the structures, the compositions. Shortly after reviewing his debut, I kind of forgot about it. It’s not that I didn’t like it; I certainly did, but at that time, I was just so washed over with lots and lots of music to listen to, I quickly forgot about things I heard the day before. So now, upon reviewing “Monochrome”, I did give it several proper listenings in different settings, and I have gazed over the odd way of expressing the vocals.
The first track is just a short intro. A door that opens, squeaks and closes. The rest of the tracks are all called “Fragment” with a number after, like they were ripped from a bigger context. It feel mysterious. I like it. Actually, a lot around ROUGGE is still a mystery. I still don’t know who he is, what he’s trying to say, what his influences are, what he wishes to accomplish. He is just a friendly person in a chat conversation and a demon composer that seems to haunt me whenever I feel like I’m on top of a creative period in my life.
I really enjoy listening to this. Too bad, I can’t say much about it that I already didn’t say in the review of the first album. Many years have passed between the releases and of course ROUGGE is an overall better musician this time around. All the songs sound super complete and professional, and while still limited to just piano and vocals (well… with one exception) they can get really intense as they push themselves into your hears. I do sense that this album has a darker vibe which I of course like. Especially the second track (the first one after the door intro) shakes you like trembling thunder already in the first notes. But then, out of nowhere, comes a rather sweet and cute melody and it doesn’t feel that dark anymore.
Vocally, it’s good. It’s interesting, it’s good. Can’t say much more. I still think it sounds a bit like Thom Yorke wailing along.
The last track is marked as a bonus track and supposedly separated with 2 minutes of silence on the CD edition. ROUGGE stated to me that while his work usually is a quest for minimalism, this here sets him out to try some new things. While still having emphasis on piano and vocals, it introduces a string section and also some percussion. It sounds really good like the rest of the songs and I wouldn’t prefer any of the styles for a future release, just keep doing what feels right for you and you will have my support!

I think this album might be easy to miss out on. The debut wasn’t very widely distributed and this seems, now just weeks away from the proper release, to follow that pattern. I do however recommend you to track it up, for some good and original minimalistic neoclassical tunes that’s sung without words.


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