Wednesday, May 19, 2010

None more grey

Discreet, quiet, unobtrusive. When you've labeled yourself Les Discrets, unsurprising. But read further in your thesaurus, bub. Reluctant, suspicious, withdrawn. Thus, Septembre et ses dernières pensées. Commencer à court, the windswept calm within the heralding L'envol des corbeaux, the flight of ravens, those mythic totems of the battlefield, of the journey to the great hereafter, mortal coils snaking their way over the horizon and all such shuffling but also those charges of Odinn, Huginn and Muninn, thought and memory, venturing forth daily as we also do in yet another attempt to survive ourselves.

Discover L'Échappée from such visceral forces? Bonne chance, even via this secretly undulating, smoothly electric neo-Fields of the Nephilim progression, this seemingly lost composition from Amesoeurs' one and only album. Given that two of the band's three members alighted from that sadly-defunct act, their influence on such pieces isn't perplexing.

The verdant carpet of Les feuilles de l'olivier offers an organic, propulsive troposphere so redolent of vintage Anathema or Portland, Oregon's Agalloch, and like that latter troupe, Les Discrets deftly layer breathing space in between extended chord movements.

Post-rock, shoegaze, haunting, expansive; grab another clutch of overused synonyms, toss everything in the blender and smear the contents over the Song for Mountains, the album's emotional nucleus, a dexterous mélange of sadness and that rare strain of hope unearthed beyond the quotidian sources. C'est-à-dire, the things that subtly dominate our non-distracted consciousness: love, loss, death. Nothing so deliciously macabre, however, more a rumination on the ouroboros of natural systems of which we are a simple part. If not the musical kin to Black Sabbath's Sleeping Village, certainly a spiritual relation.

The dark, delicate acoustic & percussion brew of Sur les Quais, something that wouldn't sound out of place on an Unto Ashes release, is opposed by the insistent, deceptively disjointed, predominantly electric Effet de Nuit, that unstoppable cataract of time where we do our shiftiest contemplating. Here, midst some stellar clean plucking and distortion.

The title track strata of words both spoken & sung follows, a gauzy mist presaging the monumental Chanson d'Automne, another slow hypnosis. Listen to the prominent echo, quicksilver in reverse: je me souviens. I remember. Aromas infuse that somber season, and how easily thought and memory are indeed recalled to the here and now in a fertile, mazy grey.

The penultimate track, a determined rumble-cum-mellow layabout, is an instrumental nod to the lovers Svipdagr & Freyja -- Menglöð in the tale itself -- found in the non-Codex Regius lay Svipdagsmál.

There's certainly hope floating on the buoyant neo-folk of album closer Une Matinée d'hiver. Being paired with winter impressions, not so strange as upon initial glance. The dark before the impending, literal dawn of spring, no? And the question that has vexed man since the first firing of the synaptic network, where to find the proverbial ours.

As I write this, the trees behind me are swaying with speed in deference to the swiftly passing front, her overcast canopy and the faintest breaks of white within the monochrome swathe of grey. I can't conceive of a better companion outside the eerily beautiful artwork courtesy of band leader Fursy Teyssier that adorns the digipak. Only the month is wrong, but perhaps that speaks to the universality of the art radiating during the course of forty-three minutes.


Holte Ender said...

Excellent track. Another band I've never heard of. I'm living such a sheltered life.

Mauigirl said...

Great review - you are a word artist, Randal.

Enjoyed the music - as Holte says, I had never heard of them either. Love the album cover too.

Am catching up here - sorry for the long absence in Blog World!

Randal Graves said...

holte, it's great stuff, a few of the heavier tracks are almost a vaguely metalized Joy Division. Real emotional stuff.

And don't feel bad, whenever some blogger posts a link of new releases, I might have heard of 1-2% of them, tops.

mauigirl, it's probably one of the few things I've reviewed that most of you guys wouldn't run screaming for the hills from.

Don't sweat it, the real world takes precedence. Hope your mom's doing better!

sunshine said...

Great review Randal!
I loved this song. :)

Am I going to have to go and buy ANOTHER album that you've reviewed for us?? :P


Betty C. said...

Great song, interesting cover, intriguing band name...I know nothing of them. I'll have to find out if they're French or just singing in French.

Tom Harper said...

Nice sound. Sort of "mood metal" or "power ballad" or whatever label you'd want to use.

I also hadn't heard of them.

Christopher said...

Reminds me of The Cure song "Just Like Heaven."

Beach Bum said...

Damn Randal, this was great music. I have never heard of them either but I will buy the CD.

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Randal Graves said...

sunshine, break out your stripper money, Miss Canada.

betty, they are legitimately French, from around Lyon, I believe. Don't worry, no death metal surprises.

tom, power ballad? Them's fightin' words, hippie. Mood metal can stay.

christopher, there's definitely a bit of Cure inspiration in various parts of the album.

BB, my devious plan to get you all to start listening to black metal is well on its way.

Aristocrat? Must be the monocle. I knew that sucker would come in handy.