Somewhere along the way, "instrumental" blurred into "arty"—a catchall tag for otherwise unclassifiable bands like Tortoise and Explosions in the Sky. To get a good sense of Marvin, try reorienting your thinking to the early 60s, when vocal-less outfits like the Ventures privileged high-energy fun over introverted experimentation. This Montpellier, France trio layers Emilie Rougier's vintage Korg synth tones—and the occasional Vocoder episode—over guitarist Frédéric Conte and drummer Grégoire Bredel's writhing riffs, yielding a noisy throb balanced precariously between New and No Wave. In the spirit of great club music, Marvin uses unadorned foundations as launch pads for textural intrigue. "Discudanse," which leads off the band’s self-titled 2010 LP (a reissue of a self-released 2007 recording), barrels forward on the strength of a triumphant riff that sounds like Lightning Bolt doing four-on-the-floor. This theme statement segues into a hectic call-and-response between Rougier and Conte, a stylish roll from Bredel and a series of ray-gun synth blasts. Marvin clearly sees no shame in an ADD mentality; this is event-packed music built to make you move. Active since 2003, Marvin issued a series of demos and split 10-inches before hooking up with the influential French label Africantape, home to both American math-rock refugees such as Big'n and Oxes, and their French descendants like Papaye. Marvin meshes well with this skronky crowd—Marvin was, after all, recorded by Steve Albini associate Lionel Darenne—but the band's wired glee gives it an edge. Rougier, Conte and Bredel’s output would hold as much appeal for a spazzy loft-partier as for a discerning record collector. Instrumental? Sure. Rarefied? Not a chance.
You should definitely watch part 2 right now.