Ulan Bator
Nouvel Air
/les disques du soleil et de l'acier; 2003/



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Ulan Bator is not just the cryptic capital of Mongolia. Ulan Bator is a French band as well. Well it used to be. They used to play a music filled with underlying tension in-between post rock and emocore. They also added awkward sounds to their mournful atmospheres, sometimes reminding you of their brilliant fellow countrymen Bastard. Unfortunately, this new album on Les Disques du Soleil et de l’Acier does not particularly revives their second album whose sound was almost scary.

Nouvel Air is much more polished and seems to result from the band’s orientation towards ethereal indie-pop. The voice, which used to be overdriven and filtered, sad and angry at once, reminding early Girls vs Boys and even Jesus Lizard in its most unwholesome moments, is now closer to Etienne Daho. What a change ! The lyrics are sung in French. The music itself has become softer too. It sometimes sounds weird especially when it shifts from good dissonant ragged lines to atmospherical indie pop (‘Airlines’, ‘Sympathie’). Unfortunately it becomes dull when it spreads out its length and satisfies itself with being ethereal (‘Nouvel Air’), even when it is reminiscent of currently famous and successful English bands of the kind (‘merci x faveur’, ‘terrorisme érotique’, ‘geisha paname’), except for the voice. Most tracks are too long (about 7 minutes in general). However, let’s assert that the songs are well-penned and that a more receptive listener would be delighted by such lush arrangements. This listener would have been more delighted if the sound had been rawer though.

Despite its obvious cinematic reference, ‘Atmosphere’ is a nice song blending enraptured syncopated riffs with an Etienne Daho-esque voice but this unexpected blend is definitely peculiar.

-Blacklisted ‘more steel than sun’ Igor

/dec 15th 2003/