“Instrumental rock! Break out the adjectives! Even the opportunity for enthusiastically bad music journalism can’t actually diminish my excitement for Bordeaux band Les Limbes and their self-titled EP.
As with many things that come out on the surprisingly long-lived Perth boutique label, Hidden Shoal, this EP arrives unexpectedly, at short notice. Label mainman, Cam Merton, has an enduring passion for instrumental rock bands that manage to be a little bit more experimental than your regular, cookie-cutter post-rock types: from some Australian artists you might actually have heard of, like Apricot Rail, City Of Satellites, Perth and Tarcutta to the many diamonds in the rough from distant lands, that get dusted off for a listen, but most likely disappear again, shortly thereafter.

I’m keen for Les Limbes to have a lasting impact. Billed nominally as a post-rock outfit, the band are a little bit, intriguingly different. Not taking any chances that you’ll miss their schtick, they put it right up the front of the EP, knocking the gate off its hinges with a driving bass-line that powers opening cut, Hypersonic, with a guttural roar.

Before the simple but thoroughly eerie lead line drifts like fog across the top, you’ll be put in mind of Shellac, if Shellac were a krautrock band and Steve Albini gave up singing so he could focus on driving his terrible aggression, psychically, through Bob Weston’s mind and into his bass-playing.

The pure force of the bass, combining with some pretty gnarly rhythm guitar pushes the sound right to the edge of metal. It’s got the same mixture of prog warmth and ferocity that you’d expect from Mastodon, or that time when Trans Am teamed up with The Fucking Champs.

All of those chops don’t stop Les Limbes from being plenty theatrical, slipping in Hammond organ, piano, strings and synthetic effects. There’s something -I don’t know what- howling like the wind in the latter half of Hypersonic, which made me think of nothing so much as a metal version of Let’s Do The Timewarp again; one with a real pair of balls, unlike that Mr. Frank N Furter. Elsewhere I’ve heard the band described as post-rock’n’roll, and well, that might just be spot on.

The EP’s second cut, Strangers To Everyone does the traditional post-rock slow crescendo, languidly rising into thundering, modal harmonies. If every track sounded like this I’d be bored, but as a one off, why not?
Thousand Billion Broken Ideas pushes further into post-punk, spraying mental turmoil through cracks in its facade, leaking out a quietly strained vocal endlessly repeating “I’ve got a thousand billion broken ideas” and nearly disintegrating into a piano-adorned mess.

Closer, Zeitgeist, gives the piano a proper go in a sultry, jazzy but stentorian intro. It joins with guitar in a central melody that threatens to evaporate, but keeps reappearing with ever more galvanising force.
All the arty guff on this EP, the soft heart of prog is melted down and reforged into a lead ball which gets fired at your chest. It’s the kind of attack that makes you stronger, revives a lagging passion for types of music that have been worn down by workmanlike treatment. Quite the opposite of their name, which means, simply, Limbo, Les Limbes are thrilling.”

4ZZZ (Written by Chris Cobcroft)