With HELP, FELP makes an explosive entry onto the Montreal alternative scene. The man we know as a musician, producer and collaborator with artists such as Hubert Lenoir, Les Louanges and Greg Beaudin, has released a short album of dazzling progressive jazz-hop that hits hard and in the right place, and finally puts forward a voice that we knew was very talented.
Swampy, cavernous, dark, disjointed, Frankensteinian… these are all adjectives that could be used to describe the allure of the tracks on HELP. The music is ghostly, the bass notes prowl, the percussion digs in, the saxophone passes and the vocals merge into a single creature with an indefinable shape. Unusual scales, icy vocal mixes, deserted verses that turn into jungly choruses… FELP’s first album already had such a pronounced, and above all distinctive, sonic signature. It’s reminiscent of the dark beginnings of BADBADNOTGOOD, mixed with the edgy quality of rapper and producer JPEGMAFIA. It’s a heavyweight track.
And FELP is well accompanied. With Hubert Lenoir, Klô Pelgag, Laurence-Anne, Greg Beaudin and others joining in, it would have been easy to get lost in the shuffle. But FELP shows us that it still knows how to keep control, and it transforms these familiar voices to its advantage. Each guest artist blends marvellously with the sound and atmosphere, adopting the tone requested while still bringing their own element to it. There’s no doubt that FELP’s work here is that of an alchemist, infusing, galvanising and transforming a breath of air into a drop of mercury. Perhaps the biggest surprise is Klô Pelgag’s resolutely nonchalant, chilled allure on babyfoot, which, combined with the staggering, irregular rhythm, makes it a highlight of the album.
The album is a marvellous puzzle of sensations, of spectral grooves that surround us and place us in an unknown space. FELP’s music encloses us in an ultraviolet-lit spherical mirror, turns on a smoke machine, and then asks us to identify our reflection. We understand that we have to let ourselves be guided by the shapes, let go of our ability to recognise, embrace abstraction, and let ourselves flow for the duration of these 27 minutes.
This is FELP’s UFO, which lands for a moment and then takes off again, spinning towards the Moon. The trail it leaves behind is purple, powdery, hallucinogenic and highly addictive. We can’t wait for the next visit.