I love a good puzzle, and that is exactly what Keor’s new album is. And just like a puzzle, the album is heady and mentally exhausting, yet brilliant in multiple ways. There’s so much going on here, some great and some not so great, and the total package leaves me deliciously confused. The album is called “Tearoom”, and it released on April 7th.
Keor is Victor Miranda Martin of Montpellier, France, and apparently also the name of the album protagonist. Victor handles vocals, guitars, keys, and programming here, and has guests help out for the rest. Those guests include: Tim Garson on drums and bansuri flute; Marsouin des Sables on drums; Lucas de la Rosa on lead guitar on one track, Benoit Miranda Martin and Philippe Martin on backing vocals; and Thomas Gualtieri, Sally Haddar, Cassandre Beudin, and Theo Agnese on stadium choir vocals.
Let me just say straight away that “Tearoom” is an insane album. It feels as if Victor is trying to rival Devin Townsend’s batshit crazy antics, storylines, and musical detours. In fact, in more than a few ways, this album feels similar to “Empath”. This album features plenty of voiceovers and thoughts, most of which are really strange, as the protagonist (?) guides us through his conceptual process of what I assume is creation of some type. Almost like a god of music composing a masterpiece and walking us through the process, complete with tons of swearing.
The music is progressive rock with lots of heavier moments, tribal rhythms, percussive portions, lovely melodies, abstract and sweaty instrumentals, and great guitars. There are times where you can feel your body perspiring in response to the overbearing atmosphere and sonic heat that Victor brings, and some of the song structures are complete anomalies.
And you know what? I think this is all exactly what Victor had in mind. This completely mind-melting cinema was his goal, just like Hevy Devy. And to round all of that off, for every dense and even off-key moment, there are tranquil and delicate portions that are truly beautiful and soothing. The record has a little bit of everything.
I’m not sure I have the mental stamina to lead you through the entire album right now. Let’s just say songs like “Warlike” (which will definitely be one of my favorite songs this year) are panting, clammy, fretting affairs with world music melodies, raw vocal lines, abstract rhythms, and riffy touches. Another example of this is “Underworld”, which starts out like a normal track (at least for this album), but ends up in a dark, pounding, chaotic atmosphere. Played loudly and heard with focus, these two tracks will fray your nerves like Swiss cheese.
And just when you think the fried egg brain is over, we get “Learning God” and “Marta/I Am Keor”. The former starts out with a delicate, almost Beatles-like melody before transitioning into a Devin Townsend-style vocal assault and heavy percussive rounds. Of course, the song then hovers and floats for the better part of its 12-minute run until Keor starting talking to himself again, and we get a grand, off kilter ending.
That ending leads right into “Marta/I Am Keor”, a strange song that seems like the protagonist has come out of a trance or dream. In some ways, it almost feels like Keor meeting someone in a spiritual, maybe even Buddhist realm, and somehow that melds with the rest of the story to produce energy and confidence in Keor. The song soon becomes a huge celebration complete with stadium cheers and soaring theatrics. It is a quite a fireworks display to end the record.
When I heard that Victor was preparing new music, I knew it would be “out there”. His previous record “Petrichor” was so good for exactly that reason. But instead of simply going for textural novelty again, he brought us insanity, and I feel like some people just won’t be up for the crazy ride. For those who dare and have the guts for this roller coaster, I think you will find yourself pleasantly surprised at how Victor’s genius shines through with vigor.
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