released March 23, 2022
Wārheād is the project of French-born, Dutch-based Léa Massé. On her debut album, she combines psychedelic drones and atmospheric soundscapes with hip-hop inflected beats. The result could almost be categorised as 'trap'. Yet there are no vocals to anchor these 'rites of passage' – the uncertainty as to which thresholds are crossed is part of the artistic endeavour.
The lines above the A's in both project name and album title seem to suggest long duration, a stretching of time perhaps. That would be in keeping with the character of the music. Distant drums, distant drones and Latin titles point to the idea of age-old rituals – perhaps the “solemn ceremonies and rituals of nationhood”, as the quote by African-American writer Ralph Ellison on the tape sleeve suggests. In times like the present, when the 'warheads' at the head of nations openly talk about using nuclear warheads against other nations (again), such a questioning and deconstructing of the idea of nationhood itself seems timely and urgent.
File under: drone, trap, psychedelic
Promoviert Léa Massé nicht in Rotterdam über dschihadistischen Extremismus? Als WĀRHEĀD verklanglicht sie ihr Thema auf Rites de Pāssāge (ACT 1057, C-40) als enthemmten Schritt über die Schwelle, wie auf Droge ('Psylobe'), auf gerader Linie in ein schwarzes Loch ('Tenebris foramen'). Als Wahn ('Insanire'), der sein ritualmörderisches Märtyrertum ('Rituzoid') als Erlösung krönt mit dem allerchristlichsten „Es ist vollbracht“. Massé verknüpft diese Pointe mit Ralph Ellison, der rituals of growing up das Wort redete, die den sacred values und solemn rituals of nationhood spotten. Nation? Sind es nicht eher Warlords und Terrorbanden, die Jungs mit heiligen Phrasen mobil und zum 'ganzen Mann' machen? Massés dröhnend eingesponnenes Tamtam ist in seinem pochenden, zischenden Gang nicht direkt martialisch, aber doch fiebrig erregt, zu allerdings klagender Frauenstimme und mit Sand im Getriebe. Als Hirnsausen in Dauerschlaufe, in von Melancholie und Monotonie angefressenem Pathos, als Drang zur 'Dissolution', zur Überdosis, zum Overkill, der unablässig die Trommel rührt. Umringt von Tenebrae, den graulichen Keren des Todes...
Something completely different is the music of Léa Massé, from France but residing in The Netherlands. She works as Wārheād, and according to the information, the lines above the A's "seem to suggest long duration, a stretching of time perhaps". I hope this comes across when publishing the review online. I must say that the music isn't all about long duration. I expected drones but got some rhythm infused tribal-inspired music. There are some chants as well. Think Rapoon, Muslimgauze, Hybryds and more current ethnic-inspired music. You could think that this isn't my cupper, but I did enjoy this quite a bit. One of the things I enjoyed was the acoustic drum aspect of the music. It gives it a bit of rock flavour, even when some of the rhythms are more akin to hip hop. There is quite a bit of variation in these pieces throughout, although all of these are on the atmospheric side of things. There are moody bits, noisy bits, world music, rock rhythms and even pieces without too obvious beats, but just a quick succession of electronic tones. Uplifting in all its darkness!
The French Léa Massé under the moniker of Wārheād, based in the Netherlands, releases her first album for the label of Augsburg, Germany, Attenuation Circuit, a prolific imprint in publishing experimental music artists.
This album ends with “Primis Tenebris”, a silent track where the wistful melodies convey passivity and calm. Perhaps a counterpoint to the rest of the album, in which we have “Threshold” at the start with a dark atmosphere, continuing with a hip-hop-industrial that is reflected in “Dissolution”, which reminded me for a few moments to Scorn with its heavy beats and resounding kick drums. Whereas “Denuo excitetur” deploys tribal rhythms and chants influenced by the Middle East appear. “Insanire” continues with the tribal percussion that transforms into a mantra. “Consummatum est” and its ethereal guitar spirals giving way to expansive drones and noisy guitars, while “Psylobe” and its distinctive staccato rhythm unfurls raucous guitar feedback. The album picks up steam with the throbbing rhythms of “Straight lines” ft. TONTO and the dance beats of “Rituzoid” both unexpected as striking.
Léa Massé manages to capture different influences and make a well-balanced and well-crafted album.