Friday, November 18, 2011

REVIEW// Uniform Motion: One Frame Per Second

     Uniform Motion is a trio, but one that records a very special brand of 'illustrated' folk-pop. Based in the city of Toulouse in southern France, this musical triplet is a comfortably well-established one, with 'One Frame Per Second' their third studio album since Andy Richards and Renaud Forestie's formation many months ago. Third member and talented percussionist Oliver Piotte only actually joined the group during the last gasps of 2010, but his induction has been handled excellently, and this record feels all the more wonderful because of it. Uniform Motion are not all about the music however. A main and perhaps even crucial element to their live performances is Forestie's ability to incorporate his visual art style into the spectacle, his fervent imagination nourished by Andy and Piotte's acoustic sound. Watching videos of the French outfit do just this is captivating. You find yourself staring with a furrowed brow, trying to decipher the flowing lines and soft edges as they're drawn, and when that 'eureaka' moment finally arrives, it does so with an amazing, child-like thrill. 
     However, this sensation cannot be experienced as well when the two ingredients of sound and style are split. On an album lacking in the latter, Uniform Motion need to make up the difference, and do so with story. 'One Frame Per Second' is a concept album first and foremost, detailing the tale of a little knight, whose princess has been stolen by a giant. In plucking up the courage to fight this mythical being, our hero loses, but valiantly promises to continue in the good fight, to save both his love and an island community from the beasts decidedly intimidating grasp. His bravely sparks a form of worship amongst the native people, the pressure from which leads our protagonist to sell his soul to the devil, in return for the strength to fell the giant. Upon his return however, the people have found their own strength, in him. They have captured the giant, but not before the princess has been set adrift at sea, or before the agreement with Satan confirmed. There is a saddening charm about these nine tracks. A fairytale innocence, wide-eyed and full of dreams. It's a picture that plays, twisting and turning and compensating for the absence of imagery provided live by Forestie's artistic flair. At first, the little knight is musing about his lost love and whether to set out and sweep her off her feet. That's where we should begin.
     'One Frame Per Second' opens with 'The Victory Of Buckets And Doors', a melancholy nostalgia dripping from the simple instrumentation and lonely, yearning vocals. "How I longed to hold her hand, how I longed to touch her face, how I longed to hear a sound" are words sang with such emotion and passion and trembling heartbreak it's impossible not to fall in love with them. A teary-eyed, sigh ridden climax, building as the vocals build and finishing as the cold, lonely walls of reality fall back upon you. 'Our Hearts Have Been Misplaced In A Secret Location' follows along the same lines, the acoustic reminiscence a perfect remedy to those long winter nights. An upbeat ending, dappled in splendid harmonies leads into the next number, 'I Was Crushed By A Forty-Foot Man'. It's a strange journey down our winding path. As you listen, you realise that the giant isn't a nasty creature at all. Instead, he is simply misunderstood. For all his bulk and destruction, a moment arrives when you suddenly catch on. With his height, this giant is probably sad, alone in the clouds with nobody to talk to. Our little knight is crushed, but the giant's singing makes you not angry, but quite somber and sorry and rather touched instead.
     And that's the emotion expressed throughout the rest of these tracks. This thought-provoking and sentimental folk-pop that seems to have everything. The spine tingling build and climax of 'We're Hauling Land Through The Air'. The introspective allure of a giant's blissful unawareness of worldly worries. A comforting love story, and a tale of disquiet and despair. 'One Frame Per Second' is beautifully refined, and grabs onto your heartstrings with no intent of letting go. It brings you to the brink of tears, which you choke back with a brave smile and the memory of our little knight, valiant and gallant and every inch the hero. Andy's vocals are stunningly stirring. Wistful and tender and somewhat inspiring. Stream the opening song below and then I urge you to buy the album over here!