Learned musos, enthusiastic journalists and square eyed bloggers all release end of year lists in December in an attempt at charting the best records of the previous 12 months.
But these lists are inevitably cursed, because great sounds that bubble to the fore during the winter often eclipse those that were recorded in the seasons before.
And so it goes with Breton, a quartet that began in south-east London, and their ARi EP which is released on Monday; four songs that blend the most influential sonic tones of 2010 into a progressive musicality bound to charm critics into placing the band at the top of their festive charts.
Released via the impeccable Hemlock imprint (who also launched James Blake), ARi moves across math-rock, future garage, wonky hip-hop and dubstep in a concerted effort to deconstruct the year’s most loved genres into an unidentifiable new whole.
Angular guitar lines bounce into the space opened up by half-step drum beats, glockenspiel chimes accompany deep waves of sub-bass and vocal harmonies weave between muscular synth riffs. It’s sound-system music made by a live band. Tunes that could be played on a stage or out of a DJ booth.
Their method works. It’s been championed by tastemakers such as Dazed and Confused and NME. They join other artists such as Darkstar and Mount Kimbie (who will both also be gracing those hallowed best of lists) in taking new music forward into 2011, exploring the point at which underground dance-music crosses alternative art-rock. Exciting movements into a territory which can’t be categorised by genre, yet.
ARi follows two other extended players: Practical, presented in a hand-painted sleeve, and Sharing Notes, accompanied by a DIY synth to be assembled by the listener. Both are sold-out.
Breton’s attention to detail and cross-medium creativity goes beyond the way they present their records. Live, they play with a member who specialises in visual projections and have previously scored short-films on stage. Their online presence also emphases the visual as much as the aural, with a series of engaging films and music videos available to watch on the BretonLabs Vimeo page.
They have also remixed fellow south-east Londoners Hatcham Social Club, Maps and Atlases and Local Natives.
An engagement with forms other than music make Breton a multi-dimensional unit, one with several modes of output, be it live, recorded or online. Are they artists? Film-makers? Musicians? Remixers? All of the above, and excitingly so.
Breton play Too Pure’s clubnight at the Old Blue Last this evening. You can pick up their ARi EP, released via Hemlock, on digital or vinyl on Monday.