Release Date: Apr 3, 2012
Record label: Fat Cat
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
[a]Breton[/a] are a peculiarly modern proposition. They didn’t start out as a band but swerved into it when they began producing live soundtracks to their films. That this ‘art collective,’ incubated in south London’s makeshift spaces – all sketchy car parks and vibrant experimentation – should turn out a debut as casually brilliant as ‘Other People’s Problems’ is not surprising in itself.
Bretón's debut album, Other People's Problems, often feels like the next step in dubstep's journey to ubiquity. Where artists like SBTRKT and James Blake developed a more personal, song and vocals-oriented side to the sound, groups like Nedry and Bretón go a step further, incorporating a rock band feel into dubstep's moody template. Of course, by the time of Other People's Problems' release, you-got-your-rock-in-my-electronic-music/you-got-your-electronic-music-in-my-rock hybrids weren't exactly new, and Bretón recall a more streamlined Klaxons, Metronomy, or onetime tourmate Tom Vek as often as they do James Blake.
Breton position themselves not so much as band, but as a multimedia arts collective spawned by squat culture. They make films, remixes and music of their own, all from their own BretonLABS base in south London. Their debut album sounds pretty much exactly what you'd expect given their provenance: samples are cut and chopped, the bass judders with the insistence of dub, the vocals are drawled, electronically treated and incomprehensible, and the faint fug of weed paranoia hangs over it all.
In a recent interview with NME, Breton frontman Roman Rappak claimed that the London four-piece is "not out to make a big political statement." His declaration is hardly provocative until you learn that Breton's HQ-- functioning as studio, home, squat, party venue-- is a disused bank in south London. You may recall a few news items about occupying banks over the past year. The borough in which these filmmakers-turned-musicians work is within scanty distance of Brixton, one of the epicenters of last summer's riots.
This review originally ran in AP 286. London collective Breton reside in that space of a Venn Diagram where downtempo atmospheres overlap with modern electronic-music technology. The 11 tracks on Other People’s Problems conjure images seemingly bathed in any combination of harsh synthetic light, be it ultraviolet, flickering fluorescents, monochrome computer monitors, buzzing heat lamps or intrusive bug zappers.
This south London outfit has crafted a distinctive debut rich in mass-appeal potential. Mike Diver 2012 South Londoners Breton take the DIY attitude very seriously. With music and videos controlled by the same group of likeminded individuals, and high-quality promo clips the result of fine synergy between audio and visual pursuits, they’ve done their own thing, their own way, since first surfacing with the Hemlock-released Counter Balance EP in 2010.