I was first introduced to Marie Davidson in November through the album she put out with Austin’s dark-zone mecca Holodeck Records. Only recently did I discover the recordings that she made with her husband Pierre Guerineau under Essaie Pas that came out this past fall. “Nuit de Noce”, released through Teenage Menopause Records is a similar collage of dark synths, sequencers, bi-lingual spoken word, and minimalist structure, but with an addition of twangy guitar and a greater tendency toward pastiche. Carcajou establishes the pace with Esquivellian offbeat block hits and a YMO-worthy synth lead. Three minutes into the song, the coarse bass line shrinks to a short pulse, and a menacing synth drone begins to wail; Marie’s voice begins to flake off into fibers of delay; the bass mutates into a grinding burst. A gloomy void has opened in the midst of the loungey structure that they started out with.
In a Belgian interview back in November, Pierre and Marie explained their name as a reference to Charles Bukowski’s epitaph, “Don’t try,” describing how while it at first glance seems negative, but under scrutiny it reveals an encouraging meaning. “It means ‘Do it!’ ‘Have no fear!’” The anecdote shows a fascination with the coinciding moments of optimism and gloom that manifest themselves inversely during the course of the album. The songs on “Nuit de Noce” pull from a set of upbeat italo-disco and syrupy film score references to wring out an underlying sense of anxious tension and brooding melancholia. Essaie Pas tap into the sinister undercurrent of Giorgio Moroder’s basslines. Even when Moroder’s bass lines are smothered in guitar solo cheese and cloying synth timbres, they still retains a sense primal metaphysical dread and an uncanny valley quality to the synthetic timbre. For those of us who are coming around to Essaie Pas post Davidson familiarity, “Nuit de Noce” is an absorbing counterpoint to her solo material; it’s groovier, more disparate, but equally captivated by the paradoxical connection between dark fantasy and life affirmation.