French duo Melanie Moran and Julien Camarena released their stunning self-titled debut album in Europe in autumn of 2011, with Lentonia issuing a U.S. release this past April.  UNISON is composed of storming electro-noir soundscapes swirled with a compelling atmosphere of expansive sonic lulls and topped with Melanie’s sweetly beguiling vocals.  The alluring, melodic songs on this album alternately, and sometimes simultaneously, bruise and soothe, propelled by a relentless assault of crashing electronics and brutal beats that are lightened by Melanie’s ethereal, murmured vocals.

Scintillating album-opener “BLOOD BLOOD BLOOD” spurts forth asteroid-blasting electronic mayhem with Melanie’s placidly dispassionate vocals floating over the tumultuous mix.  Bright, zippy synth loops and blippy, springy beats vie for attention amid starship laser carnage.  The measured pace of “Heartcore” digs even deeper into the trenches with a dueling beat and a blasted atmosphere of grinding industrial noise that is leavened by Melanie’s delicately suspended, melodic vocals.  As the song progresses, the dark sonic bombardment abates as bright synths and roiling guitars take control.

Next in line is the deceptively titled “Harmless” with its ominous winding siren loop, warped, from-the-80s synths, zig-zagging noise, click-clacking beat, and Melanie’s mid-range vocals that lift up and elongate on the chorus to angelic choirboy heights.  Melanie adopts a cool tone on the verses, sing-talking with an edge of menace about “Walking down the streets…” and spending “…nights awake…”

UNISON toss in a couple of short instrumental numbers that are striking in their dissimilarity to each other.  “OMER” projects the height of distress, sinking like a listing ship amid scraping low strings and the blare of foreboding warning horns.   “Arp Quad Rollerskate” tacks in the other direction with globular, xylophone-like hits, a warped sheen of piano notes, and sky-high Q-chord reverb.

Melanie is the relatively calm eye of the storm on “Lost Generation”, sounding a bit forlorn as she sings “You shelter me.”, around which seethes a fiery frisson, antsy beat, and zippy synth line.  On the chorus a dark undertow of distortion emerges as Melanie yearningly draws out the words “You shall run free.” in a child-like tone.

True tranquility arrives in the form of the relaxed “Brothers & Sisters”, a quietly shining light in the surrounding darker dystopia.  A deep, knocking thump of a beat and subdued synths are graced with a picked guitar refrain and Melanie’s velvety, but innocent vocals sighing “We float into the night.”

The shadow of industrialization encroaches again on “OUTSIDE” with its echoed, clanking metal pipe percussion and distant growling machinery.  Distorted noise and a peppering of hard-blip synths clash against Melanie’s slowly enunciated, but half-buried vocals.  Melanie’s hazy, Julee Cruise-like vocals glide over the miasmic number “DARKNESS” and are mirrored by illuminating synth squiggles.  The hymn-like “Intimacy” dials it down even further with a measured pace, gentler beats, and breathy wordless vocals from Melanie.  Whispered talking male vocals (Is it Julien?)  infiltrate the background and the overall effect is reminiscent of “How Does It Make You Feel?” by AIR.

The crackle of a rapid-fire beat gets the pulse racing again on “First Degree”, as well as its sudden headlong rush of swelling organ notes, wavering woodwinds, and Melanie’s heavenly sighed vocals that elevate the song to its zenith.  Unison ends on a low-key note with “Put Your Hands In The Air”, a slow-paced number with warped synth notes, garbled male talking vocals, sweet, tear-inducing poignant strings, and Melanie sing-talking in a child-like tone.

Official Site: http://weareunison.com/