Lorem Ipsum – Vivre Encore [Things You Might Have Missed 2021]

Lorem Ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit Vivre Encore. Despite their playful moniker, the band lose nothing to translation. The French trio use acoustic guitar, violin, piano, and voice to articulate anxiety, failure, and grief in profound and singular songs that draw from European classical music, folk, post-rock and screamo. Were it not for the band’s creativity, Vivre Encore could be a maudlin, slapped-together affair that plunders these traditions rather than synthesizes them. But across these eight songs, Lorem Ipsum never fail to impress and surprise, cleverly integrating electronic flourishes into meticulously constructed songs that culminate in the most beautifully strange record of 2021.

I have never heard an album quite like this. Lorem Ipsum’s style is best aligned with those of bands who take a similarly ambitious and unconstrained approach to their music; the art-crust of Anopheli or the genre-jumping screamo of Circle Cakes the Square. But they don’t sound too similar. Vivre Encore isn’t a screamo album any more than it is a chamber music album. Though it uses the tools of both, the record refuses to commit to a side, and uses its unique sound as a means to pursue a concept rather than an end in itself. The goal is not for listeners to revel in the details of the music itself but for them to empathize with the sorrowful cast of wounded who populate Vivre Encore.

Each of Vivre Encore’s songs is named after a central character grappling with a brittle body, whether their own or that of a loved one. “Sergeï” loses everything to his alcoholism, his grief binge accompanied by a twinkling melody and seasick strings, then accelerated by a racing violin. “Anne” has to face a world as indifferent to a loved one’s death as she is destroyed by it. Here, electronic percussion layers onto the band’s singing and screaming in imbricate rhythms, reflecting her alienation from the beautiful summer that this man will not live to see. Paralyzed by grief, “Andrée” wastes away regretting the past, not able to revive live again though the band scream at him to do so.

The whole thing is enrapturing. Lorem Ipsum’s arrangements are as diverse and challenging as their characters. They eschew traditional beats and phrasing of hardcore for dense, ever-changing rhythms and most often work together in intricate three-part arrangements rather than fall into place behind upfront melodies. Even though “Andree” begins with an instantly recognizable piano figure, the band are quick to twist the moonlight into something sinister, stabbing out with hair-raising violin glissandos and swiped-at guitar chords. “Didier” strolls through a lilting, quintessentially French melody before it is bucked by a tumultuous violin melody, and ends not with shouts or screams, but with a longing half-singing.

Those arrangements never tarnish as I come back to the record, and glimmer with beauty behind the tragedy of its characters. I come to grimace at Sergeï’s nauseous defeat; to feel the twinge of Bienaimé’s war scars. I stay because that personhood is embodied in the music itself. No matter the language, Vivre Encore will speak to you.

Tracks to Check Out: Andrée, Anne, Sergeï

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