Boomkat Product Review:
Brittany’s fabled Frenchtek rave scene is subject to a long overdue retrospective, spanning 10 frazzled hardcore techno oddities produced by key players Yann Dub & Explore Toi plus pals, made in the ‘90s and into the ’00s - Massive RIYL La Peste, Nomex, Praxis!
The sound of choice for spangled refuseniks in north western France; Frenchcore is the hardcore techno subgenus notorious for soundtracking 100,000+ crowds at Teknivals - Europe’s answer to the UK’s free parties - as well as scuzzier, smaller raves in the region since the ‘90s. ‘Nation De La Boue’, or ‘Nation of Mud’, is among the first excavations for this pivotal era of contemporary French counterculture. Focussed on the work of two wayward players in the late, great Yann Dub and spar Explore Toi, their uncompromisingly weird and psychoactive rave music is held up as emblematic of French traditions of protestation and celebratory expression, and resonates heavily with Editions Gravats’ remit to highlight vital undercurrents of French music to the wider world.
Yann de Kéroullas, pseudonymously known as Yann Dub, was a french sound engineer, founder of Reverse-Primecut mastering studio, and leading proponent of frenchtek’s weirdest sounds. He passed away in 2013, but not before driving myriad minds to delirium with his experimental strains of speedcore for long over a decade via his Reverse Records label. Yann’s work accounts for about half of ‘Nation De La Boue’ - a worthy posthumous testament to his wayward style, characterised by its raw concrète-mechanical textures and the kind of pelting kick drums that drive K’d out ravers to trample puddles in the mud. His wickedly unyielding ‘Untitled’ is a case in point, while ‘Bruit Blanc’ shares a more psychoactive sound design with his peer, La Peste, and the radioactive abstraction ‘Brest sa plage son port industrial et sa base atomique’ channels the region’s mix of rugged beauty and industry into pure noise grot. But if you want the full frontal experience, we’d advise downing a bucket of cheap red wine and rail a line of K the size of your middle finger before submitting to the 10 minutes of his ‘Untitled (Bonus)’ for optimal frenchtek effect.
Explore Toi accounts for the other half of madness here. The wind-tunnel triplet coefficients of his ‘Kilos d’Huitres SVP Madame’ jam with Yann speaks to their shared, unhinged sidespin on hardcore techno, while the welting pulses of ‘Flamings Terminal’ gives a more personalised take on frenchtek standards, and the blasted 909 of his ‘Urban Groove’ follows a more psychedelic hunch to tonal paintings such as ‘Face Ambiance (Outro)’ and the monotonic structure of ‘Motherf#cker’s And Fatherf#cker’s (Bonus)’ that hail his background as a visual artist.
’Nation De La Boue’ renders a definitive cross-section of France’s alternative rave scene, one effectively light years away from more popularised strains of French touch filter house and electro-rock that paralleled the years covered inside. It’s an intriguing snapshot of a largely undocumented scene and a vitally unhinged - and largely forgotten - cog in the rave continuum.