L’Epee: Diabolique (A Recordings)

Psych doyens team up for superb debut set

Released Sep 6th, 2019 via A Recordings / By Richard Lewis
L’Epee: Diabolique (A Recordings) An ensemble who fully deserve the description ‘psych supergroup’, L’ Epee bring together Brian Jonestown Massacre mainman Anton Newcombe, Lionel and Marie Limiñanas from cult French psych rock troupe The Limiñanas and singer/actress Emmanuelle Seigner (Venus In Furs, Frantic, Bitter Moon). Named after comic book inspired 1968 Italian action thriller Danger: Diabolik scored by Enino Morricone, Diabolique threads together vintage garage rock, twanging Spaghetti Western guitars, 1960s yé-yé and a generous dusting of noir atmosphere, led by Seigner’s ice-cool vocals.

Une Lune étrange gets things underway in forthright fashion, Seinger’s vocals riding atop a thrumming foundation of layered guitars, bass and rattling tambourine, succeeded by Velvets influenced psych chanson Lou. Excellent lead single Dreams evokes The Kinks led by Brigitte Bardot (The Limiñanas and Newcombe covered Waterloo Sunset flipside Two Sisters in 2017) backed with a video that looks like lost scenes from a Nouvelle Vague film. La Brigade Des Maléfices (which translates wonderfully as The Hex Brigade) meanwhile pairs a suitably demonic guitar riff with an spoken-word lyric and sinister feedback.

Saluting two pioneering influences, the beautiful Grande bears the influence of the Moroccan music investigated Brian Jones on the ground-breaking Master Musicians of Joujouka LP while the rhythm track to On Dansait avec elle is redolent of Serge Gainsborg’s iconic Histoire de Melody Nelson. More comic book influences abound in the colossal Ghost Rider (not a cover of the Suicide track) which recalls the imperious psychedelia of San Fran progenitors Jefferson Airplane blown up to IMAX proportions.

The chiming Springfield 61 (presumably named after the American Civil War rifle) is gorgeous Spector-esque pop that is possibly the best thing here, while the largely instrumental Un Rituel Inhabituel is a slow-rolling groove with diaphanous vocals. Concluding with the album’s punchiest moment The Last Picture Show, sharing a title with Peter Bogdanovich’s 1971 monochrome masterpiece is an urgent, upbeat Motown stomper, “I don’t wanna panic / But that’s how I feel / My baby doll / A chemical party for a New York Doll”.

Forty minutes of superb psych chansons, Newcombe has stated “The goal is to get another record in the pipeline” following the completion of Diabloique, something that would be hugely welcome on this evidence. Every bit as good as you hoped it would be. 4/5