Post-rock

Alcest – Kodama

594384The songwriter / guitarist / vocalist of Alcest, Neige is undoubtedly some sort of genius. Alcest is the kind of music that I should hate or be completely bored of, but I’m not. At best I love them (and have a slight man-crush on Neige, but who Alcest fan doesn’t?). Alcest can evoke feels unlike any other band. Not in terms of largest scale, but different.

The preceding album Shelter‘s half-boring, half-ok post-rockpopfest felt dangerous like a picnic in kindergarten. It ended with a mighty and infusing 10 minute track Delivrance and the 2016 release Kodama also saves the best for last. The last minutes of Oiseaux de proie‘s blastbeating and ethereal melodies could go on forever. Just when I am hoping that it would explode like first album’s Les Iris into an even more supremely emotional melody (yet afraid that if it happens I might end up shedding some tears), it ends, unfortunately.

Even for a heartless music reviewer Neige’s French still sounds damn romantic. The fourth track Untouched is pretty but I can’t get over how hentai it sounds in this romantic Japanese context. It’s just wrong or I am a crooked-minded bastard. Probably both. I’m glad both of the skeleton hands are ON the surface of the water in the album cover.

Kodama is a fine album overall. Shelter went too deep to majorkeys out of the darkside and lingering melancholia of blackgaze. On Kodama, there’s more metal elements that distribute variety. Clever twists surprise just when things are on verge of going too cheesy (take the title tracks echoing surround acoustic guitars as an example). This interplay also makes the emotional parts more compelling. Surprisingly the track with the most growling vocals and blastbeating, Eclosion is also the most positive one.

Unlike Souvenirs d’un autre monde (1st album) and Shelter (4th album) Kodama delivers enough to be lockered with the truly successful entities Écailles de lune (2nd album) and Les voyages de l’âme (3rd album).

Les voyages de l’âme grew to be a fine album, but it took over a year, I expect Kodama may well keep getting better. Les voyages has many of the finest moments in Alcest discography which will keep it superior to Kodama, but neither can challenge the strongest base level of Écailles de lune. However, I am still waiting Alcest to combine these elements on a flawless display that the band has been hinting towards for over 10 years now.

7+/10 (with growth potential)

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If These Trees Could Talk, quick runthrough of their last three albums

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Above Sky, Below Earth (2009)

Above Sky, Below Earth (2009), the second album of If These
Trees Could Talk was and still is one of my favourite post rock records. When I tuned in Red Forest (2012) some years back it seemed like a lamer, albiet pretty good, successor recycling same elements.

Strangely in further years I got rid of the recycling feel and Red Forest grew to be almost at the same level. Its best individual track Red Forest, took hold of their best track title.

The latest effort Bones of a Dying World (2016) kicks in instantly. It is hard to fathom why there’s no instant recycling feel as its largely a similar record. The key components are still the organic progressing compositions and plenty of high-flying tremolo melodies with some really atmospheric ambience setting an effortless and relaxed background. The weird jazz feel of the second track Swallowing Teeth is partly to blame of the freshness.

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Red Forest (2012)

The compositions have an unseemly amount of earthliness and a remarkable amount of naturefeels, like a walk in the woods. As cliche as it may sound.

For all its glory after the 5th track The Here and Hereafter I start get a tingling feel of recycling again! I cannot really remember much of the end album even though it sounds proficient. For this, I will have to address the review later. I’ll put on an alert and add a paragraph or two one year later to see whether this sensation wears off like with Red Forest.

In anycase I am fairly sure The Bones of a Dying World will be high on my, so far short (2015 unveiled a lot of its jewels after the year had turned), best of 2016 list.

TO BE UPDATED NOVEMBER 2017

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Bones of a Dying World (2016)

For quickie listens a backwards chronological playlist:

Post-rock Melancholia playlist

Melancholic post-rock slow burners collected to an album like playlist.

1. Moya is a sloooow starter from one of the biggest names of post-rock Godspeed You! Black Emperor. It is a post-rock collection after all, what would it be without some mood buildup :).

2. Glanko’s – 9003 (feat. Mote) is a really surprising sidestep by this idm artist. I repeat, an idm artist, yet its characteristics are of this collection, not of idm. Somehow his quite excellent Telekommand ep came to have this stunning blue ambient tuned piece with some mellow violin work. It is really surprising how close electronic music can get to post-rock.

65daysofstatic have a lot of electronic music influence and elements but 3. Unmake the Wild Light focuses on their organic side. I also can’t recommend their album Wild Light (2013) enough. From start to finish a terrific album which two sentences can’t do justice (duh). Unmake the Wild Light is a bit more hopeful track before the 3 closing tracks of this collection turn damn somber. The end quaternity is very close to my favourite 4 post-rock pieces all time.

4. Mogwai’s – No Medicine for Regret is a real slow burner, quoting some guy from last.fm because he said it best:
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5. Dipole Experiment and 6. Les Iris both have endings to die for. Dipole experiments 11:35 minutes feel like 3 minutes to me and the massive orchestral end buildup is definitely among the most emotive I’ve ever heard.

Yes, like Glanko, Alcest is not an actual post-rock band but Les Iris has strong foundations in post-metal / post-rock. Not to mention it is one of the only tracks that can still feel like an ethereal two ton truck after Dipole Experiment’s gargantuanity. And it feels a lot cause I know the end is nigh. Via some gentle blastbeating, and it is funny how blastbeating can sound gentle but it does, Les Iris impeccably traverses to one of the most perfect endings known to man. Alcest has an ability to conjure a completely jaw-dropping melody all the sudden. The last minute of Les Iris is the most shining example of it.

Salomè Lego Playset – So Much Was Lost In The Process Of Becoming

PrintWhen you pick a free download post-rock album from an owner of a weblabel who also released it, more the surprise it is to feel enthralled almost immediately. But when the second guitar melody of L’animale morente meanders in one can’t help but feel encompassed. If this is not enough, blissful saxophone comes in to complement this lulling tune.

Salomè Lego Playset’s So Much Was Lost In The Process Of Becoming is a dark themed lull headed by frontman Nicola Boari. It meanders in terrains that fit right into my Finnish melancholy conception. It visits experimental grounds as well, but mostly through field recording sounding ambient that adds to the atmosphere.

The quality of tracks does go down after the brilliant starting trinity L’animale morente, Heimarmene and Humanity and Paper Balloons. The next few still have some serious merit but are in professional terms a tad boring. The Fountain and Il Deserto e le Fortezze are dark as opposed to starting three are melancholic. After slow and solid start The Gorge yonders welcome variation as heaviness but is the saxophone a bit off-key?

The last track Dolce Mattatoio is hard to grasp with its 20 minute length and lots of field recording and noise elements. But it doesn’t bother the big picture as its the last track. I have a great affection to last tracks that end with 10 minutes of meaningless humming leading into a hidden track! Dolce Mattatoio cannot be called meaningless humming though, it is a vastly experimental track with a lot of noise and field recording stapled together with familiar instruments from previous tunes. All in all, quite a staggering piece and very much unlike the rest of album.

So Much Was Lost In The Process Of Becoming is a professional sounding indie record with satisfyingly crunchy and organic sounds. The vocals are very delicate but they work in bands favour.

The experience was deepened further by this heartbreaking official statement that Salomè Lego Playset released a few months ago:
“2011. 5 years have passes and they couldn’t feel heavier. Salomè dismantled and so has a part of me gone forever. I honestly can’t say what I’ve done in the past 5 years since. Nothing. This lies as testimony of what I once was and what I once believed in. How long will this go on for. How long do I have left. Should anyone notice, listen, that’s somebody else he will find.”

The statement describes some of the creation pains well and I can only say that Spettro records has seemed to publish quite a lot of albums in the past years. Most of us do not even release one great album in our lifetimes  ;).

8/10

Free download:
http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Salom_Lego_Playset/So_Much_Was_Lost_In_The_Process_Of_Becoming/
or
https://salomelegoplayset.bandcamp.com/album/so-much-was-lost-in-the-process-of-becoming
Salome Lego playset info & discography:
http://www.spettrorec.com/index.php?/artists/salome-lego-playset/

Once Were Ghosts – Transient Silence // NMMREM XVIII

Once Were Ghosts is a post-rock project originating from Las Vegas. When Las Vegas always brings in the image of flashing lights extravaganza, constant motion and hectic surroundings, Once Were Ghosts might be placed in this abstract moment when the city sleeps. Suitably Transient Silence clocks only a pinch under 7 minutes, the short wander you can make in deserted alleyways seeing shut down light signs, before everything bursts to flame again.

Transient Silence is driven by beautifully crafted guitar melodies setting the atmosphere high immediately. Imagine those November nights when it is raining, windy and cold outside and you are warm inside under the linen covers sipping warm blackberry juice and reading a book. The guitar melodies are accompanied by a drum machine which is a bit over the top, drums being a lot faster and technical than the guitars. Drums still manage to sound good but no doubt they aren’t the perfect par for the stunning guitar lines.

The shortness of Transient Silence is also a charm as it is easy to listen 2 or 3 times. Especially the first 2 tracks are top notch melancholic post rock, bringing in mind the strongest outputs of Escape The Day and This Empty Flow. In only 7 minutes it is hard to give yourself up to a complete flow as you know the fun is not going to last for long, but nearly every time Once Were Ghosts takes me over on the very first notes. Give this one a try, it is one of the best 7 minutes you’ll spend.