Fragment. – Is Your Truth Carved in the Sand?

I keep discovering exciting one man projects lately (see Chuter). Now, the French one man project called Fragment. came to my attention.  Fragment. is heavily inspired by some of my favourite bands like Jesu and Nadja. He constructs  the same blend of shoegazing drone/metal with a heavy melancholic vibe. The drums are also programmed (no wonder ’cause it’s a solo project). Fragment. has a slew of  very limited releases (mainly EP’s) under his belt. I have managed to obtain 3 of them through the consouling music label (Cavity EP, 2008 ; s/t, 2009 & Towards The Surface EP, 2009).
Is Your Truth Carved in the Sand? is the first record that will see a more widespread release under the Japanese label Happylife (who previously released Nadja stuff this year).
It is a collection of songs all previously released on those limited cdr’s & EP’s. Some versions of the songs have been retouched as well (Version II).

The opener “As it Always is” can be found on the Monolith cdr. Reverb & distortion drenched guitars play a simple melancholic melody line. The  lines are formed by a higher pitched guitar (much like Jesu) and some synths that rise above the guitar onslaught. The vocals are modulated and sound very harmonic and melancholic (again like Jesu, Iroha, Nadja etc.). Recent Jesu though for example, is much more electronic than this. Fragment. sounds very organic. The songs are quite repetitive. But in most tracks I didn’t find that a bother at all. The vocals in the opener reminded me of the Jesu track called “Why are we not Perfect?”.
Two Becomes One” opens rather strange with guitars modulated with a flanger or something. When the drums kick in though, this quickly brings the sound of the mentiond bands back to mind. This is a slightly more uplifting track. The vocals are a little more prominent and could do with some minor improvement. The lyrics are quite simple but effective. Again a repetetive and lengthy track, but if they are of this quality this really doesn’t bother me.   I got goosebumps when the bass & drums dissapear and you only hear the guitar melody and the subtle voice uttering “two becomes one”.
The third track “Ghost” appeared on the s/t release and this is one of the gems on this release. The heavy ambient opening swarming with bass is more reminiscent with the heavier bands in the genre. The beauty of this track is its simplicity.  One redicilously melancholic melody (a very simple guitar riff), monstrous bass and only four phrases of lyrics repeated. But it is truly heartbreaking stuff.
Numb or Blind (Version II) ” was featured on the debut EP Cavity. What we have here is the first retouched songversion on this release. It opens with a discordant high pitched guitar plucking away (almost like a Jesu live sound check if you’ve seen em). The walls of guitars, bass and noise quickly join the club again. This track is a little bit more upbeat and the riffing in this song, though more complex,  is less affective. The nifty vocal section in the middle part is what makes this one worth while.  During the final quarter, the track slips into an industrial vibe bringing to mind bands like Godflesh.

Burn (Version II)” is the most electronic track on the release (originally on the Towards the Surface EP). It’s almost void of pure guitars.  A lot of emphasis on the synths and drums. The bass is very  heavy (but clearly electronically manipulated).  It is again a slow melancholic creeper that gets under your clothes and into your heart. The vocals are subtle and back in the mix and this lends itself well to this track.
Empire (Version II)” is a track clearly inspired by the earlier works of the band Jesu. It’s heavy and repetitive. It’s upbeat compared to the depressing earlier Jesu works. Again, one single melody wrapped in heavy bass, ethereal melancholic vocals and programmed drums form the ingrediënt of this incredibly simple yet effective track.
The final two tracks are the lengthiest ones. “Loose Yourself (Version II)” clocks in at 11.18 minutes. It’s got an ambient flow (more like Final) and the emphasis is clearly not on the rhythm but purely on the melodies created by the synths. The bass makes it’s first appearance on the track at around the 1.40 minute mark.
At the 2 minute mark the ethereal vocals turn this into another melancholic cut.  It’s a gorgeous track but the absence of drums makes harder to focus on this one.
Divided (Version II)” sees a return to what Fragment. really shines at. At 13.19 minutes it is the lengthiest track (again rather repetitive) but it packs a punch and is more in the traditional style found in bands like Jesu and Iroha. The lengthy outro sounds like it could have come from the Sun Down / Sun Rise EP (2007).

Relatively simple melodies,  matched with drony guitars and heavy bass and programmed drums. Ethereal echoed vocals and heavenly, well balanced synths. Other bands have already managed it to perfection but as far as I’m concerned Fragment. can join this club. It’s not an inventive or revolutionary release. But the quality is enormous and so there is no reason to complain here. For now Jesu and Iroha have yet to release a record in 2009 and Fragment. more than fills up the void!

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