Radius System is from France and I haven’t heard an awful lot of new music from there recently. But one of my very favourite albums was the work of a group of French musicians who were known as Programme, and their L’Enfer Tide album is one record my collection isn’t quite the same without. So – and this might annoy some people (not all of them French) – anything I hear from France is measured against what I think one of the best records I ever heard from anywhere.
One UK band that enjoyed huge success in France is Placebo, and there are definite nods to the roaring glam stomp of Brian Molko et ces amis in amongst the louder and heavier passages of Escape/Restart, which is something of a textbook “quiet/loud” album. Jittering keyboards introduce stoner rock blasts which lead into alternately laid back and frenzied sections, tending towards classic grunge in their more reflective moments and untranslatable howls of fury in the more involved sections.
This approach reaches its apogee on sixth track “Implosion Part 2”, where the competing elements in Radius Systems’ composition properly complement each other. The delirious thrum that introduces the track highlights the abrasive main section, which twists and fades into a nucleonic burst of distortion which ends suddenly, and all is once more calm.
But the most successful moment on the album is the last one. “Not Coming Back” downplays the earlier bursts of metalism, turning the thrash element into an altogether more sophisticated creature, and is a sonorous stab into the bowels of infinity.
When Radius System stop emulating its heroes and veer off into its own world, the group touches on real artistry and can justifiably feel proud of the seven tracks on Escape/Restart: an album verging on actual greatness.