Cosse – It Turns Pale: Album Review

Debut album from Parisian post-noise outfit, Cosse.  Prepare to be challenged and amazed.

Release Date:  10th February 2023

Label: Nouveau Monde Artistes Services

Formats: Vinyl / Download / Streaming

Back in 2020, Cosse – a Parisian band that bill themselves as a Post-noise quartet, released their debut EP, Nothing Belongs To Anything, and launched into a career that has, so far, seen them sharing stages with the likes of Lysistrata, Mothers, Bruit and Chiyoda Ku.  And now, after a period of confinement at Katzwijm Studio in the Dutch flower-growing region of de Bollenstreek, in the company of famed producer Floyd Atema, Cosse are ready to present their debut album, It Turns Pale to the waiting world.

Gilla Band, Slint and Sonic Youth are all cited by the members of Cosse as influences and it’s true that strains of each of those come across in their music.  Several tracks on It Turns Pale also suggest that they’ve been listening to Joy Division, Television, Captain Beefheart and, in all probability, Richard Hawley.  But – please – don’t use these influences as a literal guide to what the music might sound like because, whilst Cosse might be mixing the essence of things they’ve heard into their brew, the resulting sound is uniquely theirs: dense, sprawling and encompassing a range of emotions that range from soft intimacy to urgent anguish.  No matter what your musical predilection, I can guarantee that you won’t have heard anything quite like Cosse before.

Cosse have used their debut album to showcase as many aspects of their music and presentation as possible and splashes of authentic post-punk sit comfortably alongside accessible melodicism and passages of pastoral or spacy psychedelia; indeed, a key feature of the album is the multiplicity of themes within each (or at least, most) of the tracks, and the result is a set of simple, accessible songs that retain an astonishing emotional and sonic depth. 

As the band explains: “…We always pushed ourselves… looking for the unique sound of each track.  Floyd is a great sound engineer – he always came up with extra ideas, putting microphones in vacuum cleaner pipes, pots and pans, or getting dusty ‘30s snare drums with a crazy sound.  Beyond that, he knew how to push the psychology of the band in certain places.  Making an album is not just playing notes and recording well, it’s capturing an emotion, a moment, and he had the words to put us in a particular mood, especially for recording the vocals.  It wasn’t that far from a session with your shrink, but it created something special, for sure.”

A sparse, effects-free guitar strum gets opening track, Crazy Horse, underway.  The sound builds to a doomy riff, as empty and apocalyptic as anything that Joy Division were ever able to serve up and it’s the minimalist quality of the music that holds the listener’s attention in a song that successfully combines the simplicity of punk with a generous dose of bold adventurism.  Things get somewhat more punky and urgent for Tangerine, the first track to demonstrate the album’s multi-themed signature credential.  A punchy punk rhythm is punctuated by screechy, slightly psychedelic guitar before the song builds to its hysterical climax as it declares “There is no way out!”

The serious, intense Evening is equally diverse, with solid bass and drum rhythms sitting alongside uncompromising industrial sounds and pastoral melody.  The song’s absolute unpredictability characterises the whole album in so many ways.  In contrast, Easy Things, the album’s current single, is tuneful and almost folky, yet the acoustic flavour of the song and the intimacy of the vocals lose none of the more apparent attraction of the album’s wilder tracks.

The album’s softer and more experimental themes are again combined in Braindow.  Melodic guitar, solid bass, shuffling drums and spacy backing vocals all take a turn in the spotlight before a spine-tingling guitar break takes the song up to the next level.  The perceived Beefheart influence is, perhaps, most apparent in the scattered guitar of Mind Facilities, yet another song that manages to travel the full emotional continuum between world-weariness and anguished introspection, this time with a choppy guitar line and a crisp rhythm thrown in for good measure.

At six minutes, It Turns Pale – the title track – is the album’s longest cut, and it’s probably my pick of the bunch.  Once again, the rhythm section is rock solid, but, this time, they’ve slowed the pace right down.  The guitar is tasty, the lyrics are intense and their delivery is dramatic.  And, again, the song undergoes a mood swing as the initial brooding transforms into something much more confrontational and confessional.

Clouds Are Not Really Moving – a short, evocative guitar passage – feeds into the sprawling Sinner God, a song that, probably more than any other on the album, seems to cover every base from lazy psychedelia to full-on riffing, before things get utterly crazy for the closing bars.

This intriguing album is brought to its close with the majestic Slow Divers, maybe the closest thing on the album to a conventional ballad – although, don’t let that statement mislead you – there’s still a huge gulf between this and anything that you might consider to have mass market appeal.  There’s lots to enjoy here – more of that lovely twangy guitar, a huge bassline and even a generous helping of feedback; think of Richard Hawley at his most adventurous, and you won’t be far off the mark.

It Turns Pale won’t sell in vast quantities – it’s too groundbreaking for that – but those who get the message and are willing to invest time in listening closely to the goods on offer will be massively rewarded.  Expect to be challenged and amazed.

Watch the official; video to Easy Things – the current single and a track on the album – here:

Cosse online: Facebook/ Instagram

If you would like to keep up with At The Barrier, you can like us on Facebook here, follow us on Twitter here, and follow us on Instagram here. We really appreciate all your support.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.