who would have ever imagined that a land, surrounded by mountains, cheese and chocolate, could both conceal a famous fiscal paradise and a terrific post-rock band called Maïak? what’s more, who could have doubted that an album untitled A Very Pleasant Way To Die wouldn’t arise the frog’s highest attention? indeed this spleen-like, superb title serves decently the pond’s appetite for the underworld and the tragic beauty of existence.
Maïak? Маяк (“lighthouse” in russian)?
33 years before the disastrous explosion of chernobyl’s 4th reactor, mayak’s nuclear plant released innumerable tons of high-level radioactive waste as the plant’s storage tank exploded. known as the kyshtym disaster, this major accident had been hidden (and denied) by the soviet government during thirty years.
nevertheless, since 2010, Maïak –a band from lausanne, switzerland– has been paying tribute to what the band refers to
as the symbolic weight of a catastrophe that arose as the punishment of man’s guilty arrogance in an outburst remained silent.
Maïak are Antoine Froidevaux-Abu Sa’da (guitars), Marc Bettens (guitars), David Dilorenzo (bass) and Stéphane Riederer (drums). four pretty lads fearless to express their melancholy and temper with a remarkable first shot released this year by Fluttery Records.
the album unfolds with a genuine ten-minute beast called Nutributter Green Is People, an almost peaceful and tender track, which opening guitars appeal for a romantic ballad. those very guitars catch you up and bring you at the brink of a precipice along which you stroll innocently, however hesitating between gazing at the infinite landscape or disappearing in the great ocean. as the wind blows gently, the tranquil promenade is troubled (with great delight) by some impatient guitar’s riffs which call clearly for resistance and contained rage. guitars hoot with savagery, oscillate between sweetness and anger until reaching appeasement (or resignation?).
this peacemaking is only a fake secession, as the 40-minute transport of delight of A Very Pleasant Way to Die demonstrate. the tormented blazing guitars of I am a Man, I am a Free Number (a title inspired by The Prisoner) bring us out of a possible reverie with mesmerizing spoken words (probably from fields recordings) and an uncluttered, a very warm bass line which puts a damper to saturated furious guitars, which, in turn, accelerate in an uncontrollable frenzy. the tension is feverish and turns beautifully into hardcore. post-rock melancholy is highly palpable in Maïak’s music but it pairs with a beyond-question appetency for heavy, metalish riffs – as the mammoth final of A Fond Poster Girl for Tatmadaw clearly shows.
still, the most surprising part comes from Sometimes You’ve Got to Take the Hardest –a (thrilling) misleading track which cut-throating, electrifying guitars are (again) rejoined by an amazing bass line. a crazy, complex melody that alternately gets nervous, explodes, quietens down, warm up, savours suddenly the burning sun of an enjoyably desperate desert, before screeching guitars eventually spit their rage out joined by a liberating human howl. this is pure madness, what a staggering rhythm shift!
before Maïak finishes us off happily with We All Live In A Yellow Kursk (a witty nod in the direction of the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine), determined guitars show again their irritation before vanishing suddenly on a lively carousel, where we are invited to a joyful pirouette supported by undisguised laughs and glee.
oh my god, this is just fantastic, what a very very pleasant way to live.
PS: Maïak was brought under the spotlights by the pretty essential post-rock reference website, Post Engineering, and we are more than grateful to this post-rock homeland for its existence.