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Alcest: Les Voyages de l'me

It should be addressed that genres do not exist, but that bad critics and listeners seem adamant in labeling, also known as limiting, so as to fit everything inside a box that is their self-commiseration. Alcest is one of many bands (today and yesterday) that understand to disregard this, and thus the exploration of corresponding bands' sounds must work a little differently - a movement the listener will mislabel as "slow". Alcest has a unique sound, yet it is likely that listeners will unfairly degrade this third record for not being incredibly different or more metal or essentially not being what they want it to be. However, while much of what Neige has done to make his own sound transcend this "limiting" remains intact here, he may be too affixed to certain limitations he has already eclipsed.

For those who don't know, Alcest's music is an aural representation of another world Neige has experienced, hence the strong atmosphere. Les Voyages de l'Ame is far more uplifting of a record than the oceanic melancholy of Ecailles de Lune, but both share the same strength of aural stories, which is my personal favorite style, regardless of the complexity of the composition. "Beings of Light," which is essentially one riff, effortlessly works off its minimalistic build and texture and thus its atmospheric impact is strengthened, especially with the consistent drive of the blast beats under the beautiful choir and clear distortion. The layers play off each other as if they were racing each other in such a stimulating sense.

It's a bit odd to find a line to draw here because the pros and cons are very similar but the execution of them yields completely different effects. Starting off the record with what almost sounds like Moonsorrow's Hvitetty, the folk elements of "Autre Temps" from Neige's impeccably clean electric guitar sound and the slightly hazy azure of the unique string sounds do their job of inducing reverie. The song works so well because of the equilibrium between the absence or presence of all the musical layers and because it's simple enough to work with in such a way that sounds nostalgic, pure, and a myriad of other emotions that inspire one to race with light itself. "L O Naissent Les Couleurs Nouvelles" follows the feeling of the first song but evolves it, which is another perfect step in the right direction - plus adding screams as atmosphere is a smart move. Another worthy highlight are the torrentially gleaming mlange of tremolo octaves and blast beats in "Faiseurs de Mondes."

Where the record loses momentum is in the same elements. Most explicable in the song they've been playing all last year, "Summer's Glory" has all the same simplicity as the good tracks but sounds extremely flimsy. The happier mood isn't the problem, but that the music's language is far too simple and frivolous, almost like Neige is going through the motions. This is what happened with "Nous Sommes l'Emeraude" and the title track as well; their lack of interaction of the subconscious level the other songs reached is basically a bummer.

Neige is still exploring what makes his sound peculiar and I believe this can speak for the missteps. He's not pushing too hard, though that would be exciting, but he's also not taking enough risks whereby the otherwordly sound he yearns to project would certainly become more emotionally complex, which very well may be his goal. Les Voyages de l'Ame nonetheless starts off the year on a bright note, with more good than bad and a positive aura this year could use. Use headphones.

Track Listing
1. Autre Temps
2. L O Naissent Les Couleurs Nouvelles
3. Les Voyages de l'me
4. Nous Sommes l'Emeraude
5. Beings of Light
6. Faiseurs de Mondes
7. Havens
8. Summer's Glory

Added: April 2nd 2012
Reviewer: Danny Heater
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 1869
Language: english

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