As an album title, Sangue Puro (Italian for “pure-blooded”) strikes an ironic chord for a self-described “petrochemical rock” band like Les Georges Leningrad. There’s little purity on display, aside from the dedicated abnormality of the divergent synth-based sound, which ranges from electronic castanets to ominous multi-register drones to extraterrestrial horror stings to hardly humanoid reggae steel drums. These purebloods are more machine than man and more than capable of unleashing the intrauterine soundtrack for the love child of Debby Harrie and a dance-pop cyborg from an unknown galaxy.
No song is as demonically catchy as “Sponsorships,” the thumping rave from 2004’s Sur les Traces de Black Eskimo, but the music still packs a wallop, transitioning between thudding off-kilter beats and unsettling ambient tonal experimentation. The high-tempo grooves are so offbeat and frantic in their provocative absurdity they practically demand the weirdest looking toes on your feet to join in and tap along. Blotted synths and shimmering sheen blurt out the main riffs of the (relatively) straight-ahead dance groove “Skulls in the Closet,” with barely intelligible lyrics shrieked out by evil-doll-come-to-life Poney P. All three members stick almost exclusively to synthesizers, save the futuristic surf-rock riffs of “Mange Avec Tes Doigts,” another of the album’s catchier efforts.
At times, the absurdity seems to be reaching for deeper topics like consumerism and religion. In “Sleek Answer,” distorted synth hits and squiggles cover a straight-up lo-fi electronic drumbeat as Poney belts advertising slogans and male grunts emulating a look-at-me bench presser respond to the singer’s commercially flirtatious yet emotionless come-ons. Elsewhere, “Eli Eli Lamma Sabachtani” summons the ritualistic chanting of the title phrase — the words of Jesus on the cross — along with a tribal beat, an apparent rebuke of religious elitists who place their faith on a higher evolutionary plane.
It’s in these latter types of songs that Sangue Puro is at its most disquieting and suggestive, yet it’s in a way that refuses to provide an explanation for the listener. Les Georges Leningrad may get typecast as an art-rock band because of its flamboyant costumes and otherwise unclassifiable sound, but at its most opaque, the band accomplishes that quality of more conventional senses of “art,” namely its interpretive subjectivity in the eye (or ear) of the beholder.
“Mammal Beats” MP3: http://www.daretocarerecords.com/media/audio/Mammal%20Beats%201.mp3