Band of the Day

2012.09.07

Breton

Darkly glitchy mix of hip hop beats and indie from young UK experimentalists
It steps in time and drags its heels. It panders to the weakest, a fossil fuel. In case you find a richer seam, it’s a mechanism you’ve come to rely on. It’s a skeleton.
lyrics from Interference

Breton’s cinematic sound comes as no surprise. The South London experimental rock group started out in 2007 as an award-winning indie film partnership between band members Roman Rappak and Adam Ainger. Having produced soundtracks for their own films, the team later expanded into a four-piece multimedia wonder in 2010 to include Ian Patterson and Daniel McIlvenny. More recently, they've added Ryan McClarnon on visuals. Named after surrealism founder and French poet André Breton, the band independently released three EPs—Counter Balance, Practical and Sharing Notes—before signing with Fat Cat Records in 2011. Breton also crafted remixes for various artists including Is Tropical, Local Natives and The Temper Trap. They later released their full-length debut Other People’s Problems in March 2012. Breton started their 2012 tour, covering New York, the United Kingdom and Europe.

London, UK experimental pop group Breton seem like serious young men. They're not just makers of glitchy, genre hopping tunes, they're “primarily film-makers with cutting-edge video and sound design work under their belts” who live and work in a “base” in gritty Southeast London dubbed bretonLABS. They named their band after influential French surrealist philosopher André Breton, not the most frivolous move. Breton certainly are serious and arty, but they also understand the need for fun, unleashing a storm of hip hop beats, spastic electric guitar and hooky vocals.

Breton are at their best when letting loose. On “Edward The Confessor” you imagine them throwing down in a crazed industrial art space turned underground party, triggering samples in a frenzy. With its hip hop turned break beat drums the track has got more in common with EDM beatsmiths like Pretty Lights and Gramatik than a traditional rock band. “Wood And Plastic,” on the other hand, recalls fellow London residents Bloc Party withs its quickfire rock drums, electric guitar attack and emotional intensity given depth by dark violin that fits in, against the odds. “Interference” keeps the intensity, but adds in some overcast fun –chants, dramatic horns, playful bleeps. It sounds very tribal, assuming your tribe was a group of post-apocalyptic techno punks.

On tracks like “Electrician” you can't help but think about these guys' skill with rhythm. The track is a jungle of intersecting rhythms, funky distorted drums and melodic samples that are practically part of the percussion. Falling somewhere between Dr. Dre and Björk, it's experimental without sounding experimental. And maybe that's a good way to think about Breton in general, they take their fun very seriously.