Experimental Pop Band Aquaserge Combines Dance Music Grooves with Free Jazz-influenced Improvisation
Initially based in a farmhouse-recording studio in the countryside near Toulouse, France, experimental pop band Aquaserge operated for several years as a shifting collective, counting over 60 musicians in its orbit, including members of Tame Impala, Stereolab, and Acid Mothers Temple, among others. However, on the band’s latest album, Laisse ça être, it has slimmed down to a core of five musicians: Benjamin Glibert (guitar & vocals), Julien Gasc (keys & vocals), Audrey Ginestet (bass & vocals), Manon Glibert (clarinets), and drummers Julien Chamla and/or Julien Barbagallo.
Working with a pair of horn players, this quintet locked itself in a studio for three 10-day sessions, and collectively wrote new music from scratch. Starting with dance music grooves and building songs out from there, the group incorporated elements of psych pop, free jazz, noise, and a dose of the more adventurous side of ’60s-’70s rock. The album was entirely engineered, mixed and produced by the band, and several songs were recorded in one take, with everyone (including the horns) playing together.
The lyrics came about in an equally unusual manner with significant influence from Surrealism and Dadaism. They were variously written through automatic writing, coded messages, and other experimental techniques. The words of “C’est pas tout mais,” for example, were initially improvised before being cut up and rearranged, while those in “Tintin on est bien mon loulou” are modeled on a French nursery rhyme and incorporate anadiplosis.
Aquaserge’s process in the creation of L’aisse ca être is fascinating, but more importantly it led to a magnificent creation. The experimental and improvisatory nature of the work could have led to an overly complex and abstract album, but instead the band has created a joyful, groovy, and energetic work of art, bursting with ideas and surprises.