It’s not everyday you run across fun party music made by a couple of French psychologists. But that’s Installation Sonore (V2), an album of imaginative, razor-sharp dance tunes done by Jean-Philippe and Patou, two ex-indie rockers based in Montpellier, France.
Jean-Philippe and Patou came up with the name Rinôçérôse–which has expanded on stage at home to include as many as 10 musicians–after a painting by a psychiatric patient. “The painting was of these psychedelic rhinoceros [by] this guy [who] couldn’t actually spell ‘rhinoceros,’ which is why he added all of that punctuation as well as the incorrect spelling. We decided to keep it this way because we thought all of the punctuation made it look like the word was trembling,” said Jean-Phillipe in the band’s press materials.
In their brand of dance music, Jean-Philippe and Patou continue to champion the electric guitar with the enthusiasm of people unsold on the notion that sequencers dethroned the quintessential rock-and-roll instrument. On Installation Sonore , Rinôçérôse offers, with flagrant English in the title, “I Love Ma Guitare.’ Atop lazy swirls of blues riffs, a voice croaks: “It’s what you call a downbeat, it’s what you call a downbeat.” This comes before the arrangement gradually abandons its earthiness and swims into more high-tech dance sounds.
Rinôçérôse calls another piece “Rock Classics Volume 1.” It also explores a blues-run groove and soulful dance cadences, trying to do in Montpellier with organ and flute passages what Stax Recording Studio bands did, nearly 40 years ago, in Memphis. This retro charm, though, is only part of Installation Sonore ; more often they go at things with a Flaubertian instrumental precision. “La Guitaristic House Organisation” uses short, staccato guitar notes as its chief instrumental hook; around that, Rinôçérôse builds a perfectly calibrated rhythm track that charges around, except when it stops to smell a few psychedelic flowers. But in the middle of the piece, the guitar notes grow longer and more aggressive, building to one of those long, rocketing liftoffs of pure electricity à la Sonic Youth.
Rinôçérôse is, without a doubt, fusion music. But in the end it’s fun and pointed instead of esoteric and cute. Jean-Philippe and Patou make an airtight case for themselves as Europe’s foremost party therapists.