“The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down on the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up”(Revelation 8:7) seems to witness “Xanthan,” the first song on II, which uses its vivid, mechanical syntax of complex, electronic sounds. The dark synthetics are constituted by the repetitive, shrill horns and the robotic, granular drone of the static. Hearing between the lines, the seismometer needles wobble frantically. The plangent incense burners of altar boys murmuring unintelligible prayers, sounding the last throes of agony, fill the fiery wind with a metallic sacredness. All comes to an end upon a sound like flickering ashes.
“And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps” (Revelation 14:2) seems to witness “Quota,” the second song. Seen from afar, huge waves of a dark-ambient sea rinse the burned-out land. The steady, tardy throb of the percussion tries to comfort the anxious bells and the disoriented strings of the automated harpsichords.
“Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea” (Revelation 21:1) seems to witness “Pastoral,” the third and final song. The new woman stands on the ground where she must build the new Garden of Eden. A persistent ringing, drums that sound as if rods are crashing into pillows and a constant pattern of distorted electric guitars disrupt her search for tools in the surrounding paths. Like a benevolent siren, her long drawn-out, soft vocals keep the new man away from the new evil.
Though punchier than on the previous album, Kimono, French Pretzel remains faithful to electronic darkness on II. The album is a tiny pill of condensed post-apocalyptic hallucinations; small but effective.