May 2012 Short Reviews (Alcest, The Dwindlers, Sujo, Urna)

Les Voy­ages de l’Âme

Alcest  - Les Voy­ages de l’Âme [dis­cogs]

After a re-release of the excel­lent EP Le Secret and as pre­vi­ous full-length that has grown on me des­pite ini­tial mis­giv­ings, I expec­ted rather a lot from the new Alcest album. Cer­tainly more of that magical dreamy mix of shoegaze fuzz and extreme metal influ­ences. With that in mind, I’m sorry to say that I was dis­ap­poin­ted. Most tracks on Les Voy­ages are what we at this point call by the book for Alcest, metic­u­lously put together, but without any truly sur­pris­ing or riv­et­ing riffs or pas­sages.

The album is partly redeemed by two of its tracks, though. “Faiseurs de Mondes” is the most black metal-influ­enced num­ber on Les Voy­ages, and it com­bines its harsh­ness with a deli­cious waltz­ing bridge and a storm­ing blast­beat coda that brims over with energy. If only there were more of such dynam­ics on this album. The same goes for the glor­i­ously dreamy title track, which is eas­ily one of the band’s best songs to date. This album is worth giv­ing a chance for these two tracks alone, but over­all, I hope Neige will be able to bring more to the table next time.


The Dwind­lers - Alleg­or­ies [dis­cogs]

A little under 30 minutes, Alleg­or­ies is a short but sweet album from the duo Michelle Sea­man and Ben­jamin Dauer. Michelle’s poetry is set to music by Ben­jamin: a very smooth and enjoy­able mix­ture where bass-heavy jazz and elec­tron­ica meet. The phys­ical edi­tion of the release includes a book­let with the text, designed by Leonardo Ros­ado.

The alleg­or­ies of the title find expres­sion in cre­at­ive verses that blur the lines between human and machine, human and animal. The sur­real words mesh nicely with the relax­ing but never trite musical arrange­ments, which occa­sion­ally drift into more ambi­ent ter­rit­ory, par­tic­u­larly later in the album. All this works extremely well, and the warm pro­duc­tion fin­ishes the album off excel­lently. Recom­men­ded listen­ing for every­one with an ear for poetry and exper­i­mental music set­tings.


Sujo - Dia­spora [band­camp]

The lim­ited Dia­spora album I found in my mail­box one day was a pleas­ant sur­prise. This pro­ject of Ryan Huber is def­in­itely in that part of the under­ground where gui­tars shell out walls of massive sound, some­times in the form of drones, some­times in tracks where the rhythms betray influ­ences from extreme metal, both slow and fast.

Opener “Six Days” has a funeral doom pace to it, prompt­ing me to pull out Shape of Des­pair’s debut album, des­pite this track being in 4/4. It’s more in the drum struc­ture and fuzzy waves of melody. The fol­low­ing tracks vary in tempo, but have that same focus on shoegazy washes of gui­tar sound, and Sujo pulls it off well with enough vari­ation in the tracks and some sur­pris­ing touches in the com­pos­i­tion here and there.

Though in a rather lim­ited edi­tion, Dia­spora is well worth check­ing out if you’re into heavy hit­ters like Nadja and Locrian.


Urna - Lar­vae [dis­cogs]

Italian pro­ject Urna makes its debut on Brave Mys­ter­ies with this fas­cin­at­ing tape. It’s min­im­al­istic ritual tracks are full of chants, bells, gongs, and wood­winds, chan­nel­ing sac­red music from India and the Him­alayas, but through the lens of indus­trial music. The first couple of tracks are drift­ing affairs, but at the third one, repet­it­ive rhythms sur­face as well. Par­tic­u­larly “Lha-Mo” is a very effect­ive track, its reverb-drenched (gob­let?) drums pound­ing out an eth­er­eal dance. The chants in the final track, “Hannya”, are damn impress­ive as well.

All in all an excel­lent tape album if you’re into ritual indus­trial and far-east­ern spir­itual music com­bined.