LES SENTIERS CONFLICTUELS - Post-traumatismes - 10" - 2 tracks - La Grande Illusion - 2003

Les Sentiers Conflictuels is a new project guided by a young French medical student. His first work 'Post-traumatismes' has just been released on the new French label La Grande Illusion. One could easily connect the name of the label and the theme of this first production to the Jean Renoir film of the same name but it would not be totally correct... as I also presume a hint of irony in a name like 'La Grande Illusion'... Anyway...

Presented in the press release as 'a concept centred around the "traumatisms" due to the first world war', one could expect yet another boring and dispensable release but fortunately it is absolutely not the case here.
At last (at least concerning this precise theme), a record that has sense, a good reason to be released and that does not wallow in the general mediocrity that makes the bulk of the 'martial scene' nowadays.

Two long tracks compose this 10". The a side 'Ici et là-bas', as the title suggests ('Here and there'), reveals a succession of mixed sounds, old songs, noises, impressions... All the things the war veterans could not forget and that formed their daily environment after the war... this traumatism that made them unable to adapt to a 'normal' life again, after the tragic, fraternal, lonely times of war...
These tragic and mixed feelings are transposed on this record with subtlety. Sound fragments from the trenches mingle with those of the rear; fearful passages alternate with calmer moments to offer an almost perfect musical evocation of the sufferings that continually troubled these men throughout their lives...
The b side titled 'La déchirure' opens with a menacing martial ambient passage. Cannon-fire mixed with strong orchestral movements and subdued old songs... In particular the famous 'Verdun, on ne passe pas' interpreted in 1917 by the inimitable Adolphe Bérard. An abrupt seizure marks the beginning of a new atmospheric passage (rather propitious to remembrance) that will not escape from the comparison with Les Joyaux de la Princesse...
Martial and symphonic elements, films samples, compose the last part of this side... alternating noisy passages with calm and ceremonial moments mirroring the opposed feelings and succession of mental states endured by these men during and after these events.

Musically, the obvious comparison with LJDLP is unavoidable, but not in the sense of a new clone. In this case, it is due to the seriousness, the rigour and the artist's implication in the chosen theme. For once, the press release stating that Les Sentiers Conflictuels does not sound like another pale copy is not just the usual blah blah to sell the record.
With this first release, Les Sentiers Conflictuels already joins the ranks of the most talented French industrial activists such as LJDLP, Land and Propergol. One just can hope this musician will dare to explore a more personal musical path in the future, while retaining the same implication, seriousness and subtlety.

For now, 'Post-traumatismes' easily surpasses the previous mediocre releases supposed to be dedicated to victims of the Great War. Postcard inserts and photos of 'poilus' on covers are indeed not sufficient to make a good record.

This 10" is limited to 400 copies on black vinyl. The cover, designed by Wiligut with the same attention to detail and aesthetic choice as the record, features two sepias photos of a field hospital in action and soldiers in a trench. Do not look for any other information or inserts, there are none. The entire concept is devoted to its cause… there is no place here for fill-out passages or for egos of any genre.

La Grande Illusion does not appear as yet another industrial ambient label and I can only encourage them to carry on this way. This first release brings freshness and quality to a scene that just seems to turn around in circles... Hopefully, this astonishing first release will not be drowned under the uninterrupted wave of new ambient industrial releases... 'Post-traumatismes' deserves to stand out.

Nathalie F.
Autumn 2003

Distributed by Athanor