Planting the Beats

The Evolution of Local Synth Rock Quartet Rock Forest

Rock Forest play Divan Orange this Thursday. Photo Marie Philibert-Dubois

There’s something both pristine and uninhibited about Rock Forest’s revamped ‘80s dance party sound.

Formerly known as Man Machine, the band’s new name is reference to a typical suburban town in Sherbrooke’s Eastern Townships. They’re opening for explosive Brooklyn-based The Death Set at Divan Orange on Thursday, in support of last month’s X1000.

From the hypnotic and mysterious “Dimitri” to the joyful “Life Aquatic” and chillwave-y “Opposition,” the LP submerges you into a stream of dance beats and guitar loops.

Singer and keyboardist Christophe Lamarche-Ledoux is a Concordia Intermedia/Cyberarts student who started playing with bassist Renaud Payant-Hébert and drummer Philippe Bilodeau in 2004.

Members and band names came and went, but at its core the group stayed the same. Their sound is now filled out with guitarist Olivier Pépin.

They’ve since left behind the distorted intensity of their former sound. Icy synths now lay the foundation for their current rock-meets-club vibe.

“I think we relate [to audiences] better with our new songs,” says Lamarche-Ledoux. “We have fun when we play, and these are the songs we are the most proud of.”

X1000 took three years to make, two of which were spent writing the songs. The third was spent in-studio, recording and mixing whenever they had time. They sat on the songs for the better part of a year, making changes once a bit of distance was between them and the record.

Behind the soundboard was former bandmate Étienne Dupuis-Cloutier, who also produced Fanny Bloom’s Félix Award-winning Apprentie guerrière and has performed with Coeur de Pirate and No Glockenspiel.

Lamarche-Ledoux has always written in English, but recently started experimenting in his mother tongue. He thinks the new band name conveys that bilingual reality; while written in English it’s pronounced in French.

“We are very glad with our name,” he said. “It straddles the border between Anglos and Francos. And we like it that way.”

Rock Forest with The Death Set and Le monde dans le feu at Divan Orange (4234 St. Laurent Blvd.) / March 21 at 8:30 p.m. / Tickets $12.00 adv. / $15.00 door

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