Photo: Louise Michel Jackson / Constellation Records

Efrim Manuel Menuck and Kevin Doria Blend Electronic Music and Post-Rock on ‘SING SINCK SING’

With SING SINCK SING, Efrim Manuel Menuck and Kevin Doria arrive with a work that thrives through its melancholic tone, but allows a ray of hope to shine through.

Efrim Manuel Menuck and Kevin Doria
10 May 2019

Efrim Manuel Menuck is one of the leading figures of Montreal’s experimental music scene. Known through two legendary projects in Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Thee Silver Mt. Zion, Menuck has recently reactivated his solo career. 2011 saw the musician release his debut record Plays “High Gospel”, a moment of experimental rock tenderness inspired from the late 1960s scene. Consumed by multiple projects at the time Menuck would not return to his solo discography for seven years, but thankfully that came to an end with 2018’s Pissing Stars. His sophomore record arrived in surprising fashion with a more pronounced rock presence, a distinct step away from the more ethereal attribute of his other works.

During the recording of Pissing Stars, Menuck recruited Kevin Doria. Doria is primarily an electronic music artist, appearing under the Total Life moniker through which he has produced a number of adventurous drone-induced, abstractly curated ambient works. Apart from his own project, he is also part of Growing, a drone-based, noise-infused trio that has unleashed some terrific works. Their latest record, Disorder through Important Records is particularly daunting. While Doria was working with Menuck in Pissing Stars, the two slowly begun to expand their collaboration, touring together and then deciding to kick off an entirely new project.

This album is the introduction to Menuck’s and Doria’s newfound entity SING SINCK SING, which is a result of these two distinct worlds coming together. On the one hand, Doria brings in his maximalist electronic music notions, while Menuck augments the experience through his trademark post-rock style. The result is an emotive, delicate record that moves gently through drones and sweeping melodies and features a fantastic vocal delivery. Menuck and Doria do not beat around the bush, so from the opening moments of “Do the Police Embrace?” the two awaken all the sentimentality of their work impressively. It is a devastating moment of grief and mourning as the humming sounds and background vocals lead this sorrowful rendition.

Doria’s electronic components provide this work with a certain breadth and spread when it comes to the record’s scenery, bringing forth a cyclical, surrounding effect. Hand in hand comes the cyclical repetition of not only these wondrous structures but also of the post-rock generated soundscapes. Because at its core, this is a record that has its foundation built around simple yet powerful melodies. “A Humming Void of an Emptied Place” is a testament to that fact as the buzzy lead part opens up to an ocean of colors and sound while Menuck’s vocals guide through this spacious ritual. While the electronics tie everything together, it is the vocals that push the album over the top and provide it with its transcendental characteristic.

Despite the tendency of the duo to feature a stronger dose of melancholy, the record still expands on moments filled with an extravagant perspective. “Joy Is on Her Mount and Death Is at Her Side” sees a drunken complexity come to the front, defined by an early excessiveness that keeps the track off-balance, verging towards an almost erratic (within the record’s standards) rendition. It is only one side of this work, but it is what tilts the balance towards a feeling of hope. While Menuck and Doria still choose to depict the harshness of a brutal reality, they are not without optimism, and moments like “Fight the Good Fight” are perfect examples of this mentality. How the ominous start slowly transforms into a transcendental opus through the processed vocal delivery and the shining synths is fantastic, and it summarizes not only the versatility of the duo but also its mindset.

RATING 8 / 10