Combining an ambitious work ethic with a sophisticated sound that involves deft arrangements of different layers of ambient sound, L'anarchiste has been infiltrating the more intimate venues around Salt Lake City and Provo.
With the July release of Giant, the band's first full-length album, lead vocalist and principal songwriter Rob LeCheminant pushed himself to his creative limits. The end result is an album that merges the organic sounds of acoustic instruments with the surgical precision of electronic synthesizers, carrying the listener along in a stream of sonic consciousness. "My favorite thing to do with writing is to see where the process takes me. It's helped me branch out, sound-wise. I've expanded my arsenal of tools with this album," LeCheminant says.
Logistically, Giant came together over a few years. In his spare time between working and attending the University of Utah, LeCheminant recorded segments of each song, then sent the material to his bandmates and implemented their feedback, and engaged the services of producer Nate Pyfer (Kaskade, Fictionist). The band took to Kickstarter to fund Giant, fielding cover song requests (like TV on the Radio's "Wolf Like Me") from backers and posting them on YouTube. Once they met their funding goal, L'anarchiste and Pyfer recorded Giant at various recording studios, ranging from Sleepy Gaucho Studios in Salt Lake City to June Audio Recording Studios in Provo. Since the album's release, LeCheminant and bandmate Alex Gilvarry have appeared on NPR, and Giant has been reviewed by national publications such as the Wall Street Journal.
Where L'anarchiste's earlier music has more heavily relied on a somber exploration of acoustic instruments, Giant experiments with synth overtones, which create a captivating sonic contrast. "I was slowly moving toward synth anyway," LeCheminant says. "I really like the combination of acoustic instruments and [electronic] instruments. That balance is inevitably hard to do, so it was kind of a challenge for myself." It's a balance that strikes an aural sweet spot in which seemingly dissonant instruments unfold together, creating musical portraits that encourage the listener to delve into their thoughtfully applied brushstrokes.
Achieving this balance has inspired a sort of romanticism that Rob LeCheminant can't hide when discussing the creation of Giant. Most of the songs originated during his time working at This is the Place Heritage Park during the off-season. "I'd just take my banjo up and sit on a hammock under the trees and hear whatever came to me. Being outside just kind of does that for me," LeCheminant says.
Giant is composed of songs that, like the sound of wind rustling through tree branches, mesmerize the listener. "I always fall back on nature imagery as a way to explain emotions," LeCheminant says. Artistically, LeCheminant is most comfortable when he approaches his songwriting and musical composition from a progressive standpoint, enjoying those moments in which a song takes a direction different from his original intention.
Emotions—particularly those that are involved with human relationships—are at the core of the album. "I want to leave specifics up to the listener," LeCheminant says, "But I pulled ideas from different relationships that I've had. Relationships with nature, family or with significant others and ex-significant others. It's the push and pull between me and other things."
Now that L'anarchiste has released Giant, the next step is to organize a national tour. "We're working on a tour schedule that starts in California and we'll branch out from there. We're trying to get the album out in other states," LeCheminant says.
L'anarchiste has successfully established itself as a staple of Utah's local music scene by taking home City Weekly's Band of the Year Award in 2013, as well as snagging one of Daytrotter's top recording sessions of the same year. As the band begins to garner national attention, it will be interesting to see what's next for LeCheminant and his band of alt-folk troubadours.