Fragment is the kind of artist that music journalists hate to have to review because with almost no information available on the musician behind the music we are forced to disregard pseudo-important factoids or irrelevant context and actually write about the music. What we DO know, however, is that Fragment’s music is more or less written and performed solely by Thierry Arnal, a Frenchman with a penchant for slow, long, simple arrangements inspired by Low and Jesu.
We’re not sure whether Home should be regarded as an album or an EP as it is just two songs which, together, clock-in just under the fifty minute mark but ultimately that’s not important. Home is a lush couple of songs that take in elements of drone and shoegaze with a keen but subtle emphasis on melody, or rather a sense of melodics. Like Jesu’s Silver EP, Home juxtaposes slowly building layers of extremely down-tuned guitars with atmospheric electronic instruments and loops to create huge, swirling soundscapes that need to heard loud.
“Home I” begins with a few minutes of ambient noise before a stuttering drum beat and a repetitive, simple riff form the backbone of a song that slowly develops, breaks and reforms over the course of twenty-six minutes. The overall tone of the song, as suggested by the emotionally-charged title “Home”, is of a nostalgic longing. Vocally, Thierry takes cues from his low-key heroes Low and Jesu, as well as other shoegaze greats such as My Bloody Valentine, allowing the voice to act more like an instrument, one that is mixed in such a way that the barely discernible lyrics are ultimately unimportant. The human voice carrying the melody simply adds another layer of nostalgia to proceedings in stark contrast to the programmed, regimented drums. Around the twenty minute mark things get pretty mellow and the soaring ebow recalls Adore-era Smashing Pumpkins allowing the song to conclude peacefully after the racket has subsided.
“Home II”, the shorter of the two tracks, is completely devoid of vocals or heavy guitars and instead delivers the same emotional punch as the previous track with a wall of ambient noise and atmospheric guitar work. The song is kind of a drone sound collage and sounds like it could be an extended remix of the aforementioned mellow section of “Home I”.
So an interesting set of songs then and one that fans of drone and shoegaze should definitely investigate but don’t come to this release expecting much in the way of riffage or variation. This is a record to tune out to, to come down to and to get lost in. At some points, particularly in “Home II” the length of this release feels a little bit gratuitous but if you enjoy it as a whole it’s a surprisingly cohesive work. If you want a record that will send all the stragglers home at the end of a party, Home is the record for you.
Scribed by: Tom McKibbin