Next Wave #1137: Unschooling

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Rouen based post-punk five-piece Unschooling have introduced retro-futurist and absurdist imagery to jolting jank pop in their enthralling sophomore release, ‘New World Artifacts’. Following the release, Clash spoke to Unschooling about chaotic musical creation, mechanised normativity and stepping outside of their comfort zone. 

The album is an eleven song forage into the territories that mediate post-punk disgust and pop bliss. It has been described as an “armed response in the pleasure of randomness against the New World’s mechanised normativity”. The weapons to their disposal are acutely angular guitars, tight rhythms and lazer-fueled synthesised sounds. The band explained that their sound was based on a “musical culture around pop music” that has since developed to include “more radical and complex things”. The result is a joyfully disastrous sound that ‘reconciles the best of these two approaches’ – angular pop perfection. 

This reconciliation rings true throughout the album. Songs such as ‘Brand New Storm’ treat the opposing genres as if they were the metaphorical feet attached to the body of the song. Left and Right. Distinctive in their difference; both serving an integral purpose. On one foot, the band kicks with jagged guitars and an infectious beat. On the other, they kick with delightful, soothing pop. Songs such as ‘Excommunicated’ develop this concept further, as the listener is dragged from minimalist ambivalence, to dark pulsation. This discursive sound feels like the natural resolve of their creative process – “we enjoy playing on frustration by breaking up parts that seem too obvious or effective by suddenly replacing them with Brutalist deflagrations”. Each song on ‘New World Artifacts’ illustrates this in its own unique way; variation that draws upon inspirations ranging from Women, Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine all the way to influences from further afield on the musical spectrum such as “The Weeknd, Taylor Swift… and the digital hardcore scene” – musical variation is soup du jour with ‘Unschooling’.  

Underpinning this wonderful-chaos is absurd imagery that interrogates how the future was perceived in the past. Drawing lyrical “inspiration from dreams and less tangible things” the band explain that the images that accompany their sound are “a mixture of oneirism, sensitive things and more palpable statements assembled like a collage”. Musically, the band explained that “the absurd also results in the deliberate use of obsolete and defective gear that involves technical limitations which are beneficial to ideas… and lends itself to the lack of money”. By using these “old-fashioned tools” the group “like to tell short stories that take place in an ultra-competitive and consumerist world – though not in too serious of a way – after all, it must remain open to interpretation”.

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‘New World Artifacts’ is out now, courtesy of Bad Vibrations.  

Words: Arthur Arnold
Photo Credit: Marc Delavaud