Bisbâyé—pronounced ‘bees-bow-yay’—translates as “what happens when there is nothing else one can do, when uncertainty and obstacles require excelling oneself”. Initially from Quebec’s remote region of Saguenay (home of prog metallurgists Voïvod), Guitarist Jean-Pierre Larouche founded the band back in 2001, with Drummer Hugo Veilleux.
Ever since, the guitarist (and main composer) has been meticulously
crafting compositions integrating contemporary music concepts to
decidedly heavy instrumentation and aesthetics. Moreover, Bisbâyé
includes two drum kits, with the two percussionists answering each
other’s beats in real time. This polyrhythmic superposition creates a
compelling stereo effect (best experienced with headphones on). Bisbâyé
is rounded up by Bassist Vincent Savary, Guitarist Nathanaël Labrèche, and Drummer Julien Daoust.
The band’s leader cites Don Caballero and Meshuggah as influences, but
experiencing Bisbayé's music is something else entirely. Yes, the
intricacy and drum-heavy approach of Bisbâyé’s compositions can remind
the former, while the sheer aggression of some of their most intense
moments is akin to the Swedish extreme metal act’s surgical sound. King
Crimson’s influence is also undeniable, so is the sophistication of the
math-rock genre’s best acts (e.g., Battles, Dillinger Escape Plan),
while you can find some of Larouche’s favorite composers (Steve Reich,
Gyorgy Ligeti) in there as well. We might also say there is a bit of
Primus guitarist Larry Lalonde’s discordant riffing in Bisbâyé’s wall
Larouche explains his artistic process: "By
superposing melodic layers and different forms of rhythms (polyrhythms,
isorhythms, phase shifting and contrapuntal ones), I create sonic
textures of emerging properties. Their
sometimes disorienting and complex effects are contrasted with
instrumentation and simple composition structures borrowed from popular
music. Mostly, I tend to toy with the listener’s perception,
inviting them to let go of their preconceptions to dive completely into
the sound itself to explore new frontiers of possibilities."
After releasing two EPs (Bisbâyé, 2001; II, 2003) and as many albums (Gestalt, 2013; Synkronik,
2016) independently, the Montreal-based five-piece recorded its new
offering at the Makina and Kappa studios, right before the lockdown.
Instead of the usual collection of separate tracks, Le Sens de la Fin (The Sense of an Ending) was the first album Larouche conceived and composed as a whole, with the collaboration of Savary (on Caustique).
"I wrote the pieces instinctively, and the entire process took less
time than on previous records,” mentions the guitarist. "The
inspiration behind the title lies in today’s withdrawal into
individualism. This, emanating from the feeling of hopelessness, where
there is nothing more we can do collectively to improve the world. Our
collective unconscious embedded this sense of an ending, pushing us into this reclusive fallback."
A title that could be seen as both ironic and prophetic, since the
record almost never saw the light of day. The band was plagued with
major issues (funding- and health-related), prior to having mixed the
record during a pandemic—and postponing its release a couple of times.
Yes, like a frightening C-section, the delivery was painful (it almost
killed the band), but in the end, it was more than worth it.
Undeniably, this is their most accomplished effort so far. It sums up
everything that initially made what Bisbâyé is. This time around, the
band put a lot of emphasis on their sound’s polyrhythmic aspect, while
tightening up the compositions’ structures. Underneath densely layered,
yet dissonant arrangements, there are some subtle, looped up grooves
that will grow on you after a few listens. The Sense of an Ending
is guaranteed to teleport any open-minded avant-garde music enthusiast
into Bisbâyé’s voiceless multiverse. A place where heavy music’s most
hypnotic riffs perfectly cohabit with asymmetric jazz, condensed prog,
luminous melodies and the most hostile soundscapes.
The Sense of an Ending / Le Sens de la Fin press release
The Sense of an Ending / Le Sens de la Fin press release (French language)