Between the yé-yé years and the more recent disco-nouveau days, French music largely passed unnoticed beyond its borders and those of its colonial outposts. However, a recent appetite for all flavors post-punk is helping to coax labels towards some heretofore unsung undergrounds of an early ’80s vintage: Brazil’s Não Wave, West Berlin Pop and NYC Mutant Disco. Though their track provided the title for So Young and So Cold last year's survey of French angularity on Tigersushi, KaS Product were in fact represented on that disc with just that one song. Now a reissue of 1982’s Try Out, their debut long-player, allows a wider window into their electronic shadow gallery.
One half Argentine born/Yank expat Mona Soyoc – singing and pointed guitar – and the other Nancy boy Spatsz – assorted machines – KaS Product’s output is all three-minute spunk-tablets with a gothy twirl. The opening two-track salvo of “One of a Kind” and “Man of Time” gobbles up the Anglo-skewing, pasty zeitgeist and spits out a laser-drawn landscape where Rio abets Junkyard. Careening over analog drones and jumbled drumbox percolations, Soyoc’s frantic, elastic croon bears comparison to Siouxsie and Lizzy Mercier-Descloux, though Soyoc lacks the gravity of the former and total abandon of the latter. At her worst, though, Moyoc’s overheated flagellations land her in the cabaret. Both “Underground Movie” and the album’s insufferable closer, “Pussy X,” are little more than silly skits with Moyoc throwing her voice around and playing roles. Far better, “So Young and So Cold,” is the whirring, neon-lit axis of the album. Essentially the Cure’s “One Hundred Years” played at triple-speed, it finds Spatsz’s frosty robo-rhythms and synth squeals warmed by Soyoc’s sweaty conviction. A sternly abstract manifesto for an indeterminate caste, it’s a rallying anthem perfect for rudderless rebellion.
For this new edition, tracks are stolen from KaS Product’s first two EPs: Mind and Take Me Tonight which find Spatsz’s noise engines a bit wilder. Blips and squeals overflow and, in the case of the too-brief “Doctor Insane,” even dare to overtake. What is noticeably absent on this reissue, however, is some historicizing. Even the briefest of liner notes would help to deepen the disc’s context or at least give some biographical grist. For many Try Out is not only an entirely new album but also a slash through the clutter of ’80s artifacts that reveals a little, lost realm.
By Bernardo Rondeau