They grind their teeth and look at the camera with their chins pointing up. They have dark circles under their eyes. They look like they haven’t slept much. Pale. Skinny. You can tell that all of their energy goes into their arsenal’s explosion of rhythms. I imagine them boxed up in the studio until 6am, surrounded by greasy pizza boxes, throwing paper wads into a mini-basket and swatting at the marihuana smoke with a Chinese fan. I would be surprised if it were any other way, because what these two Frenchmen take out of their cigarette case is poison tobacco in a retro-futurist format. Although somewhat unknown on the playground of new Cubist beat dominated by the Scotland-Los Angeles axis, the Hanak Brothers have been bugging people for a decade already with a career closely linked to hip hop, and open to all sorts of electronic interference. This career has reached its highest peak of inspiration and definition of style with this surprising “Aeroplane” album that takes the baton, in terms of quality, from the already somewhat distant and noisy “Radio Ape” (2004) album for Planet Mu. They aren’t destined to do great things or to change the planet, nor do they claim to, but they have shown that when it comes to doing their thing, they can be two bad-ass brothers.
You wouldn’t have guessed at any concessions that might have been made - the album is tremendously well-produced in the details, but has an aggressive, flashy outline, like a cheap trailer park. It starts off with a big kick to the perineum: electro-heavy-postpunk with an overdose of lo-fi electronic and accompaniment by Bomb The Bass and Jon Spencer. “Fuzzbox” is, first and foremost, a declaration of principles: they are into filth. The clips and hip hop rhythms with a moth-eaten box of rhythms make up the skeleton of a creature with analogue bones, a bad rapper cap, and an electro-punk crest. We could do without the moments of sentimental decongestion, like the incomprehensible ambient passage of “Aeroplanes” or the gay Japanese thing in “Maeban (Shinshei Mix).” This album doesn’t need rests or pauses. When it hurts the most is when it shows its gums, as on “The Truth,” which refers to brass knuckle hip hop, the IDM of a gypsy quarter, the synthesisers of a slot machine, and a nasty streak in 8-bit format. The choleric rhymes of Sin, Young and Jeezy put the finishing touch on a major crazy-ass song. Even in the grandest pop attacks (the electric “One To Hate”) they leave their personal stamp of electro sizzling, nervous beats, and capers with the Nintendo. The wild gypsy-style synthesisers take on shades of melodrama in “Ray Break,” which is pure pop craftsmanship with flavours of Boards of Canada, but in the key of epic poor white trash.
“Aeroplanes” is pure galactic baroque: the Hanak Brothers like to stuff the turkey until it pops, applying tons of layers of sounds, overlaying sick spirals of pounding synthesisers, and the truth is that they manage to keep giving you feeding you enough to bite down on until you can’t chew anymore. “Pulet Frit,” with the rapper Tes giving his all, is a perfect example of the avoiding of emptiness that defines the Frenchmen’s wall of electronic hip hop. I love their ability to bring out the raver beast inside which you thought had fallen asleep forever. They do this with poisoned darts like “Ink 808,” a brutal electroid piece with a Martian flavour, accelerated beats, and basses that would make Aux 88 cry. And in “Syrup Elephant,” hammering crunk-IDM-industrial rhythm with raps by Tes and Crunc Tesla. Even in dreamier pieces, like the good-vibe electro pop moment of “Tarantula,” with Radionactive’s half-sung, half-recited warbling sounds big, full, overflowing with energy. The album bites, leaving its teeth marks on the listener’s flesh; the album might not last more than 2 months on our hard disks, but hell, if one thing is clear with these two nuts, it’s that those two months will be full of pain, pot, and dark circles under your eyes. But especially pot and pain. A lot of pain.