Rennes, the capital of Brittany in France, isn’t best known for its famous musical acts. Typing into a Google search ‘Rennes famous music acts’ actually did nothing more than throw up the possibility of a spelling mistake. So, it’s absolutely no surprise really, that there aren’t a lot of people looking to the region for the ‘next big thing’.
That’s a real shame, it really is, and I will tell you why. Those in the know, and now you, dear reader, are about to become very aware of an incredible debut album, that’s about to be released by a relatively unknown band. That band is occult/prog rockers Djiin, and the beauty they’re unleashing is entitled Meandering Soul. After a number of years playing, and releasing EP’s, Djiin are finally ready to step up and throw their hats in the proverbial ring. And what an inspired move that really is.
To nudge Djiin into any specific genre is a little tricky. Elements of occult rock, and comparisons to Jess And The Ancient One’s, should give you some perspective. There are also layers of prog, a little Pink Floyd in the mix perhaps? Add to that an ample chunk of stoner doom, and you really have a feast for the ears.
Over the six tracks, Chloé Panhaleux (vocals, electric harp), Allan Guyomard (drums, backing vocals), Tom Penaguin (guitar, backing vocals) and Charlélie Pailhes (bass, backing vocals), take us on a journey of the senses musically, and it’s the equivalent of an otherworldly, out of body experience. Highs and lows, ebbs and flows, it’s all here, a thrill ride, that will leave you wanting more.
Right from the first mystical bars of album opener Black Circus, Djiin set us off on a journey of discovery, into the unknown. Like something oozing out of the late sixties, Djiin set the mood and pace. A sublime mid-paced opening gives way to a slower lurch a couple of minutes in, and that’s where those layers really start to show. Equal parts wailed vocal and sultry lows, cover a slow evocative bassline, which rumbles on until midway, where a thunderous gear shift kicks in, and there’s a breakneck thrill ride change of pace. This ebb and flow carries for the rest of the track until it dies away.
Highs and lows, ebbs and flows, it’s all here, a thrill ride, that will leave you wanting more…
The Void continues this theme, and with its occult rock doom vibe, it’s captivatingly creepy. The last third of the track is where it really launches into something else, and with a visceral vocal screech, it ends in an angst-ridden outburst. Red Desert up’s the pressure, and when it’s heavy, it’s monstrous. Equal parts creepy and mysterious, as it is heavy and eclectic, it really captures Djiin at their best. Breakneck at times, the shift in pace is much appreciated. It gives the listener time to stop and take in what’s going on, and the nine minutes fly by unnoticed.
The highlight of the whole affair for me is White Valley. I’m instantly drawn to this track, dark and menacing, and genuinely creepy. As it drifts off, it leads perfectly into track six, album closer, Waxdoll. As different as it is to the previous five offerings, this is fast and adds urgency to the piece. I’m completely spellbound by the guitar work especially and at times it’s absolutely face-melting in its majesty. The breakdown at the beginning of the final third ushers in a swansong ending. Wailing guitar accompanies a rumbling fuzzy bassline and a hypnotic drum performance. As it trails off into the dark distance, it ends with a solitary guitar, which is absolutely enchanting.
With every replay, this album gets better and better, and with each new listen, there’s more to discover. The subtlety of the work at times is absolutely genius, and if you dare to take a chance with this album, you won’t be disappointed. It will take a few listens to get you there, but once you are, you will be so glad that you did.
Hopefully, this will be the start of something incredible for Djiin, and for an album that I only had a passing interest in when I first heard it, it’s grown on me so much, that it’s a firm contender for a top spot on my end of year top ten list of 2021.
In a year that’s seen me discover some truly incredible French bands, Djiin is another I can happily add to that list, and fingers crossed, will have an opportunity to see them perform live some time in 2022, lockdowns and restrictions permitting…
Scribed by: Lee Beamish