Montreal piano-led trio Misc use their album title and artwork here to reflect on a post-Covid world. The title translates as "Sharing The Ambulance" and the cover is like an apocalyptic cartoon, showing a disused hospital truck furnished with hi-fi and easy chair floating in the sky. It could be a still from any Studio Ghibli film and thus appropriate to an album which soundtracks its own dreamlike drama.
At the 2018 Montreal Jazz Festival, the group interpreted some material by U.K. dubstep artist James Blake. This led to thoughts around using contact mics (to capture vibrations as opposed to sound waves) in a bid for audio intimacy. Whatever experiments Misc tried have paid off fully on Partager l'ambulance, an album of dusky apparitions and cathartic freak-outs. Some common ground might be shared with GoGo Penguin, Nils Frahm or Esbjorn Svensson, but Sam Rapley's group Fabled also comes to mind with its musical page-turners. Implied narratives are very much the focus of Misc's work too.
A certain Nordic frisson is also noted, akin to the progressive jazz of a Rune Grammofon release. Then factor in some trip-hop beats and electronic skirmishes. The offbeat scene is set with "Le preacher," where Jerome Beaulieu's luminous piano chords are met by strident vocal outbursts howling that "Everything is gone." Whoever this preacher is, he sounds like a rabid guru-cum-revivalist. "Petite apathie" adds raking synths for grandeur and suspense, before "Q-Line" stays brief and scalp-tingling. Indeed, much of this album is like the experience of a fitful night, clouded by strange visions or even stranger drugs.
Then comes a real humdinger in "X-Alt," where fondled drums and peppy bass hardly hint at the coming storm. Beaulieu's chords suddenly form nervy tick-tocks and nail-biting shapes, as if some awful news is imminent. This, in turn, leads to mock-horror piano hammerings, all gothic and volatile. "La fab" invites a wafting comedown, then "Une chiée" mixes dark urgency with a sense of gliding on clouds. Somehow this trio makes an impression of dread feel almost meditative. "Mad" is alternately spacey and excitable, while "Superman se pointera pas" has a loose-limbed groove which relaxes into post-club recovery mode.
Misc can take you somewhere deeply enchanted, then rip away the veneer within seconds. Never mind sharing the ambulance, this one is well worth chasing. Just make sure it has some detox pills or valium on board.
Le preacher; Petite apathie; Q-Line; X-Alt; La fab; Une chiee; Mad; Superman se pointera pas.