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Chef Menteur 65
The Answer's In Forgetting

foxyd reviews the answer's in forgetting (8 of 10 stars)

by Jon Pitt, foxy digitalis
Mar 2008

[Rating: 8 stars out of 10.]

Chef Menteur hail from New Orleans, but seem more interested in celestial matters than in the earthly pleasure associated with the Big Easy. This, their second record, is a self-recorded affair, which, considering the grandiosity of the compositions that make up “The Answer’s in Forgetting,” is no small feat. Everything on this record is big: big fuzzy guitars, big pounding drums, big clanky synths. It’s a shoegaze ethic at work, and Chef Menteur’s own wall-of-sound fits comfortably among a number of beloved 4AD-heyday- era buzz bands. Without vocals, however, “The Answer…” slips a bit short of its possibilities, and several tracks end up sounding unfinished.

When Chef Menteur do get it right, they sound remarkably accomplished. The messy bits of feedback that constitute “Parasitic Oscillation” stand as the highpoint of the record, hazy and loose, wandering no where in particular. In losing the rhythm and formula of Rock and Roll, Chef Menteur focus on the pure sonics of the track, and to a much more effective end than its somewhat jarring follow-up, “Tonalli.” Here we have a rather clean sounding piano riff that unfortunately breaks the spell “Parasitic Oscillation” so acutely casts. “I.E.D.,” on the other hand, manages to gel these two impulses, providing just enough free-form space soloing at its climax to keep it from sounding like an instrumental Mercury Rev b-side. Which, in the end, wouldn’t be such a bad thing, but given the glorious landscape that the 12-minute “Goodbye Callisto” paints, it would be sub par for a band of this apparent caliber.

What we seem to have here is a record from a band still working itself out; this is the first recording featuring this particular lineup, and only their second released to date. It’s uneven, for sure, but there are definite moments of greatness. Overall, there’s a lot to love here, including the record’s inspired coda, a short banjo-laden bit of harmonics entitled “OT III.” It’s a nice note to end on: abrupt and sweet, pointing to what will hopefully be a sonically bright future for this band. If they can manage to fully break the out of the song-based orbit, they could become a name to remember.