BRUIT ≤ – The Machine is Burning and Now Everyone Knows It Could Happen Again

A Radical Album for Radical Times

album review

I can certainly remember what happened as soon as I listened to its first few minutes. It was immediately apparent that this debut album would change the genre once again and act as a monolith on the landscape of post rock / post metal. It’s no exaggeration to say that this album shook the scene’s understanding of what can be achieved when the boundaries are challenged.

A quartet from France whose name literally means “Noise”, Bruit had already cultivated a small yet growing fanbase with their first EP, “Monolith” (also highly recommended!). As they’ve explained in their releases, their original intention was never to take their music live, but to experiment with the boundaries of music and create ever bigger walls of sound within a studio environment. They certainly achieved the target of breaking boundaries and redrawing the lines: I’m also glad they decided to take their music live on the road too, as their live videos are mind blowing. I have yet to watch them perform, and they’re certainly on my list of “must-sees”. 

What makes this album special is just how unexpected it is, and how expertly each second has been crafted. It challenges your understanding of how music should be constructed every few minutes: effortlessly moving from drone and electronic noises to professional classical moments, then evolving masterfully into huge crescendos which sweep over you completely. 

The album starts off with “Industry”, a song which kicks off with a soundscape of droning electronic noises devolving into an urgent electronic ticking accompanied by drums, droning, and the quartet’s cellist bringing in the string section. It layers things slowly as it builds, adding more and more dreamy and heavy guitars, driven by a bass line which leads the way into an organised cacophony. It then disappears fast, falling back into electronic drones leading into a tragic, well-defined string piece accompanied by the ever-leading bass guitar. This folds seamlessly into “Renaissance”, the second track, which starts off with an acoustic guitar piece accompanied by piano, violin and more strings with definite roots in folk music. 

The album evolves so fast, so seamlessly and so fittingly that I find it hard to pinpoint a track except as a series of ever-complexly evolving moments, interweaved to create a story which starts, evolves, devolves and begins again. Bruit themselves describe this album as “an existential tale describing a humanity that experiences apocalypse and rebirth”, and you can see why: each track is a series of “cycles” which peaks, troughs, and starts all over again in a new direction. But unlike most post rock albums which follow the pattern of lows and highs, the moments which lead to these are entirely unpredictable, and anything but uniform in nature. “Renaissance” ends on as sweet a note as the one it started from, fading into nothingness and leaving space for the soft, undulating piano notes of “Amazing Old Tree” to make their presence known. 

This third track weaves an intricate, soft bed of introspective noise, overlaid by quotations from the documentary “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front”, where the protagonist is clearly mourning the loss off incredibly old trees which were murdered ruthlessly with the onset of the last century. You can feel his sadness in the tone of the track, and even the most distracted listener will feel the magnetic depth of this track leading you down into forced introspection, reflection on the chaos humanity has wrought through its actions. It finishes by challenging the listener into taking action indirectly, questioning the definition of environmental radicalism and insinuating that it’s nowhere near radical enough. 

If the first three tracks are amazing, though, they simply pave the way to the masterpiece that is the fourth track, the behemoth “The Machine is Burning”. This track should be in every post rock fan’s top 10 of all time, and its live performance in the below video should go down as one of the strongest genre-defining moments we’ve seen in the last 20 years. I’ve watched it probably hundreds of times at this point, and it never ceases to take my breath away:

I won’t try and do this track justice with words, as it is impossible to convey it accurately in any way which fits. Suffice it to say that builds magnificently until it unleashes an incredibly powerful wall of sound which takes you to new, emotionally powerful heights as it continues building seemingly endlessly. When it finally does come to a head, the song then fades slowly over the last four minutes, allowing you to catch your breath while simultaneously drawing you further under the darkness of its cloud of perfect noise. 

This album feels like the start of a fresh chapter in post rock. One in which I hope Bruit will continue writing incredible stories in. Since this album, they’ve released another mind-bending EP, Apologie du temp perdu, Vol 1.: less powerful in punch than this one, yet as important as every one of their tracks so far. I can’t wait to see what their future work will bring: even with so few tracks released so far, Bruit is undeniably one of the biggest contemporary presences in post rock. This album is a must-listen, and the band a must-follow. 

Rating: 10/10

Moods: Dark, Rebellious, Powerful, Vengeful


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One response to “BRUIT ≤ – The Machine is Burning and Now Everyone Knows It Could Happen Again”

  1. Makar Homenko Avatar
    Makar Homenko

    Why aren’t they in the group section? Please add!

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