Have you ever seen clowns and heard calliope music and thought, “You know, this is cool, but how could it get weirder and more uncomfortable?” If so, you should hear Pensees Nocturnes. The French seven-piece makes some of the most truly original music I’ve ever heard. And as astounding as it can be from a musicianship standpoint, boy is it ever uncomfortable to listen to. I mean that in the best way possible since all I can think about are the Rob Zombie movies House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects.
The band calls their latest creation avant-garde déglingué black metal, déglingué being “ramshackle” in French. I’ve never heard such an apt description of circus music than that, so it’s worth a listen if only for that reason. More than that, you have to experience the sheer creativity on display here. There are few opportunities like this to play this kind of metal with all of the extra inputs. Sure, you’re used to hearing drums, bass, guitars, the occasional keyboard or synthesizer, and some seriously distorted vocals. But how ready are you to mix all of that with tenor brass instruments and accordions? I’ll be frank with you: you’re not, which is exactly why you need to hear Grand Guignol Orchestra.
At the same time, these guys are talented craftsmen of music. Every instrument compliments each other in both tone and melody. This is the right combination of traditional and experimental. During the entire record, I couldn’t help but think of Mr. Bungle and Mike Patton’s projects in particular. Each song has a gimmick to it, but that’s what draws you in. On the track “Poil de Lune”, there’s an actual slide whistle melody. The entire intro revolves around it, and the melody repeats throughout the song. The whole production is pretty incredible to hear. And if you’re anything like me, you’re both intrigued and terrified of clowns. But it’s fun to get scared so give it a shot.