XCIII – Void

2022 (My Kingdom Music)

1: IR (2:31)
2: Red Lights (5:12)
3: Hannah (7:11)
4: At Last One Never Exists (4:18)
5: Re (2:31)
6: Rosemary (4:18)
7: Lunchbox (5:59)
8: Tapeworm (7:26)
9: VS (2:29)

A few times a year I have to immerse myself in an album that is quite far out of my comfort zone. This way I keep my field of vision open and it ensures that my visor does not rust. No, no melodic neo-prog this time, no exuberant solos on guitar and keys in the review. This time I shine my light on the quirky “Void”, the fourth full album of the One-Man Project XCIII (or 93) from France.

We are talking about Guillaume Beringer. He plays almost all instruments himself except for a few guest contributions. On “Void” he comes up with a mixture of avant-garde music, progressive rock, dark 80s wave and post-rock. This is all portrayed with a cinematic vision. It’s music full of electronics and hypnotic repetitions, where clear female voices take you into a dreamy soundscape. Musically, Beringer finds his references in bands such as Ulver, Anathema, Porcupine Tree and Lunatic Soul. The fact that the album was recorded and mastered by Steve Kitch (Pineapple Thief) indicates that this is not about rumbling in the margins.

Beringer makes music that tends to irritate but doesn’t do it anywhere. That’s clever, so much control. Take opener IR where a catchy keyboard theme, which is provided with various voice fragments, is joined by fairly aggressive-sounding male vocals without derailing. In the following Red Lights we first hear a Pink Floyd-like piece of psychedelics and then the song gets a somewhat strange 80s look thanks to the vocals of Maélise Vallez. It takes a switch in mindset. Valllez has a rather intriguing voice reminiscent of that of Tori Amos. I like her voice and that’s how Beringer must have thought also, because in four songs she turns on the light.

In that context, the songs Hannah and Lunchbox appeal to me the most. Hannah starts with intoxicating Fender Rhodes sounds over which Vallez can sprinkle her vocals. A succession of different time signatures creates the rhythmic line of this artistic song. The guitar arpegio’s in 7/8th are very nice and seem to create a spacey effect. Also the guitar sometimes sounds powerful and raw. By the way, that’s a very common aspect on the album. The fact that Lunchbox is my favorite album track is obviously due to the many string sounds in the song. They embrace the vocals of Berlinger and Vallez who bring an entertaining text into the world. The song has been in my head for at least a week (my own lunchbox, so to speak).

In Rosemary we hear another singer in the person of Giulia Filippi. She also fits in well and the guest role of Mathieu Devigne on piano also. His pins curl like a frizzy tomcat and eventually the guitar spews its bile. The instrumental Tapeworm is the most psychedelic piece of the album. This is a chilling get-together of keys, bass guitar and the electric six-string that goes towards the less intense side of Riverside. The last song VS closes the album completely in line.

It took me at least five sessions to enjoy “Void” but now that I’m into it I don’t want to get out. Immersing yourself in music that is outside your comfort zone is not so bad.

Guillaume Beringer: all instruments, vocals
Maélise Vallez: additional vocals (2,3,5,7)
Mathieu Devigne: additional piano (6)
Giulia Filippi: additional vocals (6)
Neemias Teixeira: additional piano (2)
Oisava: additional violin (9)

© Dick van der Heijde 2022