BAD WOMAN! It was the sleeve photo that drew us to this record in the first place…Mlle. van Trier coming over like a bratty bong-boshin cross between Carla Bley and, er, Alex Mack… The music within kinda lives up to its jacketing, a maniacal riddim-and-blooz blitzkrieg in which CONFUSION REIGNS, and it's just as likely to do your nut in as elicit snorts of pleasure and assent. Imagine Celine Gillain's expensively educated waster kid sister terrorising Tik Tok and you'd be in the right zone, I think.
Hailing from (we think) Switzerland, Renée van Trier purports to be a "transdisciplinary artist that mourns the loss of comfort of a disconnected life". Cursory googling turns up at least one toe-curlingly, confrontationally awkward/grotesque/compelling gallery performance, the kind that makes you think she is either taking the piss or is just plain piteously deranged. Art-school baby!
Something Of What We’ve Lost promises a skip between “songwriting, punk, break core, jungle, hardcore and parody” - as you would expect from that unholy frankenpop recipe, it has some successful moments, and some less successful ones. But the whole thing is a blast and against the odds hangs together, wrongfooting you from the off with the straightfaced, submerged industrial ambience of 'As The World Turns'. Not everyone will be able to bear ‘False Hope’ with its unhinged franglais singjaying as discomfiting as it is absurd, but I found myself thinking, is this totally daft, or is this not a million miles from Phew or Lolina?! Whatever, I think it works, if only because you can’t quite tell if the joke is on her or on you...
‘Perhaps One Day’ is a dramatic minimal my-heart-is-a-shipwreck electro-pop ballad in sorta post-Lana del Rey-style, Renée coming with the ultra-mannered diction and vocal fry of a bedroom vlogger with 3 subscribers doing Frozen karaoke into the abyss, but also, somehow, channelling the nicotine-ravaged vocal cords of Marianne Faithful in her sad-eyed pomp. Although Mazza's English was never this broken. And, I'm sorry, but it's somehow genuinely moving - the melody is strong, the sense of loss palpable, and the whole performance as imperfect and sad and absurd as LIFE ITSELF.
And then it gets real... ‘Huh Huh Hugh’’s sound-bombing, in-the-red gabbatronix splattered with guttural Mutsumi-style vocals is DEADLY as well as a hoot. You could put this down to fluke, until you listen to ‘OOOHHH FCK', an instrumental breakbeat bruiser which thrashes and flails like a fish on a hook but ultimately yields to groove (!) and subtle, tears-of-a-Terminator synth wash - wouldn't blink if this was on Haunter, and it serves as proof that this is music made by someone who knows and loves music, and not someone just in it for the LOLZ. Over then to the bonus 7” for the aptly named ‘Something Is Wrong With Me’, which basically consists of Renée intoning those words over an ultra-sparse, bonehead jungle-punk drum tattoo. For maximum wtf, a “parody” version in strobing 90s Europop style is included on the B-side, so garish it makes that Aldona Orlowska 12” from a couple of years back sound refined.
Hands up, dunno if I'll still be listening to this album in a year. But its lunacy and its bottle and wit and sheer human-car-crash entertainment value are worthy of attention. I can't assimilate it and I feel compelled to own it. And if the joke is on me...I don't care!