Radius Systems’s 4th album since 2005’s Work In Progress sees core duo Axel Dallou and Gregory Hoepffner refining their tastes for colossal soundscapes and swathes of post rock instrumentation that on occasion seemed designed to overwhelm their listeners with monumental slabs of concrete sound. Radius System retain a conceptual ethos at the centre of their work, and it’s this which has developed, taking their music with it. And two years in its creation since 2008’s Escape/Restart (one of my first Adequacy reviews), this new album has the band both refining and expanding their sound and songwriting. If Escape/Restart was a more conventionally accessible Post-Rock record, and one where the instrumentation was brought to the fore of the music, Architects Of Yesterday is a more focused collection of songs that display a compositional subtlety while possessing energies and enthusiasms that are at least the equal of their earlier works. As structured as the architectural blueprints for an office block and, paradoxically, as chaotic as demolition site, Architects Of Yesterday is the sound of a band recording at the very peak of their abilities.
First track “Autopilot” is based around a sonorous keyboard riff and quickly reveals the epic scope of the present incarnation of Radius System. Their sound operates on a very large scale indeed, and is handled with considerable dexterity as just when the track seems about to grow into a gargantuan wall of noise, Radius System hem in the reverb laden drums and low frequency synth to alter the track into an altogether less turbulent creature, without significantly altering the songs chord structure, and leading with relative ease into “Curators”, which replicates the rhythms of the preceding track and has Radius System indulging their Grunge leanings in a manner reminiscent of their 2008 albums. Next track and probable single from this album,(assuming Radius System release singles) “Feed Feed Connect” is an altogether more radical departure from the duos previous work as double timed drumming and keyboard develop into a torrent of sonorous guitar and piano phrases while the actual song retains its velocities and this is the Radius System track you might hear first if you investigate the bands Myspace. “Siberian Winter” is a feedback interspersed ballad built around a repetitive, elegaic piano chord that holds the track together while the musicians improvise around ending in a blizzard of feedback, a pointer to the bands live abilities.
Over the rest of the album, perhaps the second side if Architects Of Yesterday ever finds a vinyl release, the band choose to aim for creating mood rather than spectacle. “Air Leaks” is a comparatively restrained, verging on claustrophobic ballad that presents a differing mood to that which the first half of the album has already created. The whispered vocal of “Vacant Before” jars against the alternately euphoric synth and grinding guitar which partially sublimate it. ‘Parallel Notebooks’ is perhaps the most conventional song on the album, with the instruments kept in check, possibly Radius Systems most accessible track on this release. “Funeral” is as angst ridden and mordant as its title implies, and at slightly under a minute only really provides an introduction to final track “Picture Goodbye”, also (so far as I can make out) the longest track here, a full ahead and accessibly anthemic rock track that acts as a summation of much of what has preceded it, feedback drenched time signatures, keyboard interventions, climactic guitar powerchords, Radius System are in full flight here and it’s a fittingly replete, satisfactory conclusion to an impressively composed and performed 50 or so minutes.
The musicians involved in and around Radius System also produce music in a variety of other guises, but it’s the directness of this band that has perhaps led to this particular combination making the most notable impression on any number of listeners and critics both in and outwith France. Architects Of Yesterday is also the album which really ought to lead to their finding the much wider audience that, on the strength of this release, their music fully deserves.