Title: Écailles de lune
Artist: Alcest (France)
Release: 26th March 2010 (Germany) / 29 March 2010
Label: Prophecy Productions
2010 - A great year for the two musicians of ALCEST! Whilst Neige is synonymous with ALCEST, we cannot forget Winterhalter’s impact as the band’s drummer. More often than not, people seem to assume ALCEST is a one man band run solely by Neige and although he does contribute most of the music, Winterhalter definitely plays an important role giving his growing experience and prowess as a drummer.
The more I’ve listened to ‘Écailles de lune’, the title for the sophomore, the more I’ve warmed to it. However, this process has been a slow, but steady one. In regards to ALCEST’s previous material, namely the ‘Le Secret’ EP and the much loved debut full-length ‘Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde’, I instantly fell in love with the romantic vision that ALCEST forged with both of those individual and highly different releases. Perhaps a strange analogy, but I find that I view ‘Écailles de lune’ like a mother suffering from post-natal depression views her child at birth. She’s distant and though she knows she should love her child, her troublesome depression prevents her from doing so. However, in time, the depression gradually begins to subside and she grows to love and adore her child like there was never any problem. Although I dare not call my troubles in relating to ALCEST’s sophomore something on a similar level to post-natal depression, there is a likeness between the two. The first half contains material akin to the debut and perhaps even the sometimes furious aggressor that is ‘Le Secret’.
ALCEST started to develop a shoegazing sound, one which was very French sounding, naturally and somewhat idealised. ‘Percées de Lumière’ is very much in a similar vein to the material on ‘Le Secret’, shoegazing, spiral guitars from Neige and even some of his harsher vocals, which come in a distinctive rasped form. The production definitely helps with its airy and bouncy qualities. The guitars and vocals, though distorted, don’t detract from the cleaner aspects and, as ‘Percées de Lumière’ shows, Neige is capable of factoring in cleaner parts, such as his harmonic vocals into the ocean of distortion that comes towards the end of this particular song. The title track, which is split into two different parts, also shows these qualities, but not to the same extent as the third song, ‘Percées de Lumière’. In fact, these two title tracks form the basis of the positivity which will probably flow off the page of many reviews.
The second part, in particular, is some of Neige’s best work as he shows his talent for song writing and melding different approaches together solidly into one flowing depiction of beauty, in particular, and nature, two themes vividly explored throughout the course and duration of the sophomore. As shown well on part one of the title track, Neige even includes his simplistic vision of beauty and melancholy through the use of tremolo riffs whilst Winterhalter provides a more discrete dynamic side with his often varied drumming. Neige has definitely smoothed his vocals out and become a softer front man. Though ‘Solar Song’ has grown on me, it doesn’t contain the same sort of emphasis on shoegazing beauty that the opening three songs do. It floats, although rather nicely, through ambient worlds, drifty slowly with Neige’s clean voice obscuring the work beneath it. The guitars themselves have trouble mustering up anything valuable from the mediocre soundscapes. The final song ‘sur l'océan couleur de fer’ plays like an average November song. Clean vocals, clean instrumentation led by a wonderful guitar and background bass.
01. Écailles de lune ( Part I )
02. Écailles de lune ( Part II )
03. Percées de Lumière
05. Solar Song
06. Sur l'Océan Couleur de Fer
Neige - Guitars / Bass, Synthesizer, Vocals
Winterhalter - Drums
http://www.alcest-music.com/ / http://www.myspace.com/alcestmusic
Total: 9 / 10