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Fifteen years in and Zombie Zombie are going way back, the cinematic French synth trio's sixth studio album Vae Vobis veers away from the science fiction overload of their 2017 opus Livity to plunge their music deep into the Middle Ages. Joined by soprano singer Ange`le Chemin and Francois and The Atlas Mountains' Laura Etchegoyhen as part of the Doomed Angels choir on vocals, lyrics are sung in Latin, drawn from the proverbs of the Dutch humanist Erasmus.
"We wanted to remain mysterious, to send cryptic messages" the pair say, "to dive back into a language from another time, like the copyist monks of the Middle Ages".
Recorded with Laurent de Boisgisson at Studio One Two Pass It in Bagnolet, the result is something akin to a reverberating doom orgy. Previous work has always lent itself a cinematic edge - reaching its culmination in the form of two film soundtracks, for French films Irreprochable and L'Heure De La Sortie respectively - but here the sense of atmosphere and the scale of the sound has been blown up yet further. The choral arrangements hint at the work of David Axelrod or Ennio Morricone, with chanted syllables ominously arcing over the top of the likes of Lacrymosa bouncing analogue synth work and Consortium's portentous swirls of gothic sound.
There are bangers to be found within the caverns too. “Nusquam et Unique” admittedly isn't your average 122 BPM floor filler but moves forward with an ominous dubby propulsion while vocoder vocals cut menacingly through. Ring Modulus meanwhile veers between minimal and maximal as it shudders along its more subtle gridlines. The ubiquitous vocoders are pushed to their limits on the album, while sax, trumpet and percussion come and add further colour.