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Alcest - Souvenirs d'un autre monde CD (album) cover

SOUVENIRS D'UN AUTRE MONDE

Alcest

Experimental/Post Metal


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Prog-jester
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars ALCEST was Neige's child from the very beginning. PESTE NOIRE's guitarist decided to create his own music, and what he took from Black Metal was only a carcass. Musically ALCEST is an amazing Shoegaze/Post-Rock outfit, with some influences of French Folk too (closing "Tir Nan Og" is a good example). The namesake track is definitely my favourite, dreamy, melancholic piece in 6/8 with a wall of guitars and Neige's voice somewhere on the background. if you're into Post-Black stuff, you may find ALCEST a little bit boring, it's not as progressive as ARCTURUS or ENSLAVED, but if you prefer atmosphere to technical supremacy, go no further! Also if you need bands to compare ALCEST with, let's say it's acoustic OPETH covering MY BLOODY VALENTINE classics...and it's highly recommended!
Report this review (#254333)
Posted Saturday, December 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Another left-field band from France.

I did expect something more funeral-doom from Alcest with that name, album title and artwork. What I got was not in particular funeral or doom. .......Although.

The music here is dominated by a wall of guitars from the very beginning to the very end. Then there is some more half-accoustic and accoustic guitars on the top of those guitars again and some vocals. This is throughout the whole album. The tempo is Pink Floyd'ish throughout. Pink Floyd and Radiohead is a good reference point. So is Anathema. The music is somewhere between doom metal and indie rock. Yes, Post Metal is a good label.

My main gripe is that the music is a bit of a drone too. A wall of guitars, some other guitars and some vocals. That's the whole album. There are very little variations in the songs. Thankfully, the rather good Sur l'autre rive je t'attendrai has some more life to it than the rest of this album. There is actually some activities on the guitar necks on this song. The rest of this album is good. Good but not great. I still think this band has bags of talent so I have taken a mental note of their name.

3 stars

Report this review (#263279)
Posted Friday, January 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
Any Colour You Like
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars It is always going to be an interesting result when you combine such enigmatic influences as shoegaze, black metal and folk, but that is exactly what French multi-instrumentalist Neige has done with his now solo project, Alcest. Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde (Memories from Another World) contains a sprawling 40 minutes of wall of sound guitars, lucid acoustics and harmonious vocals. Don't be put off by the black metal tag, for while Neige has dabbled in that style, this release doesn't even come close to what Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde is all about.

There is not much variation on each track here, each containing a heavy, but not dark guitar mash. Combine this with simple and effective acoustics and Neige's lovely clean vocals, and you have a simple but beautiful recipe. The shoegaze tag applies well here, as does post-metal. Genre definitions aside, Neige succeeds in developing a memorable and beautiful album that transports the listener to the brightest days of spring, wandering through the verdant meadows. "Printemps emeraude" starts things off, and provides a good base as to what the album would later develop - or not as the case may be. The title track is more acoustically focused, but is in essence similar to the predecessor. "Les Iris" and "Ciel errant" continue in the same manor, mixing gleaming guitar with otherworldly vocal harmonies. "Sur l'autre rive je t'attendrai" begins with a powerful riff, but soon gives way to a lovely female vocal section before continuing in a typical Alcest fashion. The final track, 'Tir an nog" finally sees some real divergence from the styles of the previous songs, with a bright and happy Celtic mood closing the album on an ethereal high. On their own, each song is well crafted and a pleasant listen, however, the almost constant buzz of guitars becomes a bit stale after 30 or so minutes. The lack of dynamic divergence on the album is not terminal by any means, but it does on some occasions feel as though a similar riff just takes off from where the last one ends.

One of the real positive aspects of this album are the vocals, it is refreshing to hear such melodious and pure vocals from a metal artist - Neige has obviously been listening to a lot of Sigur Ros. The vocals really do resemble a French version of 'Hopelandic'. The quieter acoustic sections are also very pleasant, and when combined with the occasional keyboard flourish, it creates an undeniably uplifting and happy tone. Having said this, I was disappointed with the overall repetition of the album, and perhaps with a little more variation, Alcest could well have cracked it here. As it stands, Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde is a beautiful and charming album that just ultimately falls short of what Neige appears to be capable of creating.

Report this review (#263807)
Posted Monday, February 1, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars A special album for me but also a special album for prog rock?

Alcest is definitely an outstanding album of the last decade. Former a black metal band with melody, on this album Neige, the band leader, blends the best from Shoegaze, Post Rock and Folk with a little bit of Black Metal to create a form of music, sounding like a dream. The album starts with a beautiful song "Printemps Emeraude", which sounds like a reminder of the youth. After the intro you can listen to children playing which refers to this theme. Then Neige with his almost elfish high voice soings along to a guitar riff. The next song "Souveniers d'un autre mond" starts with a great riff. It has some kind of Post Rock-style but then it is distorted which brings back the Black Metal aspect. Over all a great song. "Les Iris" follows the former songs but with a double bass drum used. The effect is that you have on the one hand the melodic singing and on the other hand the fast drumming which is a nice contrast. "Sur l'autre Rive je Attentrai" sounds darker and more like Black Metal than the other tracks. As a highlight there is a woman singing the first verse. I really like that song. The last song "Tir nan Og" sounds totally different as the other songs. It has a wierd "childish" folk feeling. I think it is a quite good contrast to the other songs.

Is this an album for a Prog-Rock fan? Maybe if you look for a melodic album which is very dreamy. Also I can recommend it if you look for an album with a feeling like Camel's mirage. You also should know that the music is sung in French.

Report this review (#274378)
Posted Friday, March 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Originaly ment to be a 3 piece black metal band, the brain behind Alcest was always Neige forever the crazy one with his idea of coining these two very brilliant genres together (post rock and black metal) and create something so raw and brutal yet so melloncolly and beautiful. Containing 6 songs and clocking in at just over 41 minutes with the shortest song being just over 6 minutes this is an incredible album of post..black..shoegaze metal (hmm is that the correct term?)

From the moment PRINTEMPS EMERAUDE comes on with its light drum intro and that viceral guitar distortion you instantly think its gonna be quite a raw and rugged piece, but thats not always the case as the piece also contains some beautiful accoustic work and incredible soaring vocals from the crazy one himself, now i know Neige isnt the greatest singer in the world but i can see he really tries and the high notes can be really good most times, some other things that kinda supprised me about this album was on the song CIEL LERRANT the distorted guitar riff almost sounds like The Smashing Pumpkins although i find the entire song incredible, and theres not that much stuff to hate here, if you give it time theres a lot to explore.

So sum up i think its a perfect example of a musician who wants to do something different and shake things up, actually tries it, and succeeds..with flying colours

Printemps Émeraude - 9/10 Souvenirs d'un autre monde - 9/10 Les Iris - 8/10 Ciel Errant - 10/10 Sur l'autre rive je t'attendrai - 9/10 Tir Nan Og - 9/10

If your a fan of both or either black metal or post rock/shoegaze then i feel this one is for you, i think even the most hardcore of shoegaze fan would see past the distorted guitars and other black metal signatures on this album to see its beauty, a classic album for years to come, im sure of it.

Report this review (#281862)
Posted Thursday, May 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Seeing this album in my local HMV did make me wonder and become intrigued. The cover was odd, showing a wee girl trying to eat a stick, and it looked foreign and quite avante garde to be honest. But I could feel the atmosphere radiating off it, and soon it would be covering my ears.

I did my research and heard that they mixed black metal with shoegaze. Being a fan of both genres, I decided to take a gamble, and yes it was worth it.

This album concentrates on atmosphere rather than songs, with each piece feeling like a sonorous blanket. Each song has its own individual characteristics, but that great Alcest sound is heard throughout.

Niege really does make some great music, and I was impressed to hear that he produced and performed this whole album (with the odd guest)

1. Printemps Émeraude - Very soothing and very beautiful. An absolute wave of sound. An amazing composition. 10/10

2. Souvenirs D'un Autre Monde - More upbeat. The acoustic sections remind me of In Flames. Beautiful instrumental work. 10/10

3. Les Iris - Shwoing more of a black metal element. Great instrumental work. 8/10

4. Ciel Errant - Reminds me of Boris with the distorted noist backgroud. 8/10

5. Sur L'autre Rive Je T'attendrai - This is the most commonly heard song from these guys, personally. Love the female vocals. Great melodies and atmospheres. 9/10

6. Tir Nan Og - Very folky, very dreamy and very encapsulating. 9/10

CONCLUSION: Just an amazing experience really. It really is like meditation.

Report this review (#296714)
Posted Monday, August 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
seventhsojourn
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
RPI
3 stars ''Souvenirs D'Un Autre Monde'' is basically a one-man project by a chap called Neige who, with the exception of some guest vocals on one song, does everything on the album. It's an innocuous collection of tranquil and relaxed grooves, although there's little in the way of melodic interest. There's not much variety either, as all the songs are underscored with droning fuzzed guitars. Apart from the occasional semi-acoustic arpeggio or 3-note lead guitar motif, there really doesn't seem to be much happening. If I was being hypercritical I might even describe it as monotonous and languid, although I love Neige's mellow voice. I recently read a review of an Explosions In The Sky album here on ProgArchives and that review could easily have been written about this Alcest album. The thing is, I had missed the point that this type of music is intended to build to an ''hypnotic climax''. That makes sense because the final track, ''Tir Nan Og'', does sound different and releases the tension that has gradually built throughout the remainder of the album. OK, I understand and it does make for a pleasant listen, but it's just lacking in a bit of lustre for me.
Report this review (#296860)
Posted Tuesday, August 31, 2010 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A glorious thematic pathway shimmers admits the tracks of this record, which focuses to the memories of bygone days trough powerful melodic themes, slightly resembling tonal forms familiar from both hymns and lullabies. Relaxed acoustic sequences smoothen the musical intensity, empower the warmheartedness, and reduce the ethereal distance of songs flowing like dreams. Soft vocals swim along thick instrumental layers, which are constructed by synths and electric guitars rolling solemnly, creating a perfect atmosphere for allowing one's mind to wander, and possibly pleasing fans of music with strong symphonic layers. It is pleasant to hear something very coherent appearing from union of controversial ingredients, or at least to me this music sounded quite personal and new. The contrasts have been arranged with smooth transitions, power escalating from detectable turn points, which increased my listening enjoyment and made this music both logical, affecting and pleasant to follow. I think this album has great merits in originality, but I admit I think the following record succeeded even yet greater mastering this achievement as to something awesome.
Report this review (#384693)
Posted Saturday, January 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars The first full length offering by Alcest, and it's a good one. Mixing elements from their black metal past (there are still passages of heavily distorted guitar work) with beautiful clean guitar sounds, to create a wonderful and progressive distinctive sound. Entirely missing are the screamed metal vocals, instead opting for a voice that hovers on the boundary line between calming gentleness and subdued melancholia, never quite revealing which way it wants to tip. Even the distorted guitar passages are, whilst 'heavy' in some senses, still rich with melody, tuneful in their own way.

The album isn't quite addictive, moving, or memorable enough to be considered a true classic, and some listeners will still be turned off by the heavier elements at work here; I have played this album to friends before and been told it was "just noise" (oh they of unrefined palates!). That said, for anyone who is into post-rock, post-metal, the more melodic areas of ambient black metal, or just anyone that likes the sound of a really pretty twiddly bits of guitar, this is definitely a worthwhile purchase.

The best is still yet to come from this band, but this is still an exceptionally strong release, capable of fulfilling really any role required of it: it is 'ambient' enough to sit in the auditory background, the sonic equivalent of a beautiful woman (or handsome man!) sitting at the other side of the room whilst you work, or it is varied enough to be an activity and experience in itself.

A fully worthwhile release. 4/5

Report this review (#433647)
Posted Thursday, April 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Souvenirs d'Un Autre Monde' - Alcest (7/10)

When Alcest's second album 'Ecailles De Lune' came out, I became instantly enamoured with the music of this French post metal band. Now backtracking through this project's earlier work, I have heard them back when they were a pure black metal act with the demo 'Tristesse Hivernale'. Having a solid context and knowledge of how Alcest has developed over the course of a decade, I can appreciate 'Souvenirs d'Un Autre Monde'- Alcest's debut- for what it is; the project's frontman and mastermind taking several steps back from the metal vista towards his more atmospheric influences. Make no mistake, the music on 'Souvenirs' is not black metal, as is the genre that most associate with Alcest. Instead, this debut album takes the listener on an uplifting and dreamlike journey, played in a style called shoegaze. Although 'Souvenirs d'Un Autre Monde' is driven by a very tame palette of sound, the emotional gravity of the work is undeniable.

Although it is quite clear that Neige took the Alcest project to a new echelon with the sophomore, 'Souvenirs d'Un Autre Monde' already has many of the things I first fell in love with the band for' incredible melodies, dreamy textures, and the distinctively mellowed and effete vocals of Neige himself, which are typically washed into the mix in fair shoegaze fashion. Each track here is quite simple in construct and performance for the most part, often relying on uplifting chord progressions and added layers of string plucking or leads to add to the richness of the sound. Although the songs rarely change their direction much from where they first set off, the songwriting here is indeed very pleasant, even if it is a little on the simplistic side. Neige has a naive way of executing the music here as well; his vocals can sometimes sound a little amateurish, but they do manage to strike a feeling in the listener; the closest comparison may be Jonsi of Sigur Ros, but Neige does have a particular sound to his voice that would certainly be difficult to find anywhere in the metal genre.

All of the music on 'Souvenirs' flows much like a dream, and perhaps the only major flaw to the album is that it all flows in the same direction, at the same pace. Very rarely does a song ever throw in an unexpected curveball at the listener, or even cover much of an emotional variety. Instead, Alcest is deadset on one particular sound, then milks it for all its worth throughout the course of the debut. The debut feels quite novice, but the beauty and heartfelt nature of Alcest's music is heard deeply here. Although now in the shadow of the vastly superior 'Ecailles De Lune', 'Souvenirs' remains a pleasant debut from a band who seems fixed on bringing dreams to life.

Report this review (#461601)
Posted Wednesday, June 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars It's been a long time since I don't review anything. The last one I posted in here was Dream Theater's Systematic Chaos, one of the biggest deceptions in the history of such band. Probably that deception made me stop (not really, I didn't have enough time to think of anything to write about, even when in this period I've been listening to different styles of music). Anyway, today, in the Return of the Jedi, I decided to review the first album by this French band, Alcest.

I caught this album the same year of its release, I had a blog that shared music online (Crucify me!) and one of the collaborators posted it and when it finally came into my ears, I was delighted. Even when at that time I wasn't into Post-Rock, the atmospheres and acoustic passages aimed to cross my heart, accomplished their task, as it's almost impossible not to be enchanted by them,

The whole album, based in Neige's childhood dreams, possessed with strength and subtlety at the same time, goes up and down through this imaginary world where the brush form a vault that resemble emeralds. The lyrics guide us through this new scenario (unfortunately French is needed but any web translator can give you an idea of the concept and its development).

I don't know about you, guys, but for me, these kind of albums are really hard to rate, because, as a reviewer, you have to be as objective as you can, and honestly, it's difficult to acquire this objectivity, especially when you feel really identified with an specific album. Anyway, I think that was the aim of this release, to offer the listener the same experience Neige had as a kid surrounded by blue clouds and rivers made of diamonds. So, I'll give it 4 Stars.

Report this review (#529141)
Posted Thursday, September 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I've seen black metal purists elsewhere react furiously to this charming debut full-length album from Alcest, since it does jettison an awful lot of what makes black metal, well, black metal. As well has presenting a dreamy, ethereal atmosphere without a hint of the dark misanthropy that characterises much black metal, in terms of the actual music it doesn't sound especially metal at all. The walls of guitar noise are much closer to the lush soundscapes of My Bloody Valentine and the rest of the shoegaze crowd than to metal of any sort, and the calm, tranquil vocal delivery likewise distances the band from metal. Still, as far as shoegaze goes this is very, very fine stuff, incorporating a few stylistic ideas from post-rock/post-metal to expand the bounds of the genre a little.
Report this review (#788721)
Posted Monday, July 16, 2012 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
2 stars ALCEST, although a complete band, wasn't always so. While founded by Neige in 2000 (about the same time he joined Peste Noire), the original band that consisted of Aegnor and Argoth soon imploded after the demo "Tristesse Hivernale. " The two members soon departed leaving Neige as a one-man band for eight long years before a new lineup would occur. This debut SOUVENIRS D'UN AUTRE MONDE ("Memories From Another World"), having been released in 2007 which is the year before a new band would emerge, is in effect a solo album by Neige. This is the Neige show where he tackles lead and backing vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards and drums. There is for a short time one guest vocalist, Audrey Sylvain, on "Sur L'autre Rive Je T'attendrai."

Since SOUVENIRS D'UN AUTRE MONDE is a Neige solo album in disguise, it is of no surprise that it sounds quite different than the albums such as "Écailles De Lune" that follow. While the band has been tagged as shoegaze, blackgaze, post-rock and experimental metal, this debut yields very little in the metal department and is in effect a post-rock album that happens to have a guitar chords that ruffle their feathers to look bigger than they actually are. Like most post-rock, SOUVENIRS relies on a hypnotic run of soft dreamy guitar arpeggios and riffs that ratchet up the tension and ultimately find some sort of crescendo. The overall mood of the album is dark, dripping in nostalgia, rueful regret and euphoric yearning for blissful peace.

It's hard for me to review this album because in all honesty because i find it utterly boring. While this debut has been lauded since ALCEST first hit the scene in the mid naughts, i have had a very difficult time understanding why this clicks with so many and yet leaves me as cold as a whale's ass in the Arctic Ocean. While the future albums are actually quite engaging, this one seems to juxtapose all the wrong elements together in all the wrong places, at least for my tastes. First of all, the vocals are the most annoying of all, sounding like some indie pop twee garage band from small town USA. Despite being tagged metal, there are no metal vocals whatsoever with completely clean vocals dominating the entire album's run.

Secondly, this album chugs along at a snail's pace and never really engages in any dramatic changes. This is a true zone out album if i've ever heard one. While i love post-rock, indie rock, indie pop, post-metal and all the genres this is purported to be, SOUVENIRS is simply mediocre all the way around. It is a lazy breezy type of album that just floats by on codeine with no dramatic passages really ever emerging from the nonchalant drifting through the proper post-rock expectations. Next complaint, the instrumental parts just don't work together for my liking. Neige attempts to deliver black metal attributes such as tremolo picking and guitar solos but performs them so half-assed that it sounds too ridiculous for black metal and likewise sounds too out of character for post-rock.

I can understand some music lover's infatuation with emotional content being enough to make a good album but that is not the case with yours truly. Emotional connections in a pool of mediocrity equals, well, mediocrity. Probably the most competent aspect of SOUVENIRS is the production and mixing job. I do have to admit that the atmospheric qualities work quite well and indeed in retrospect ALCEST was one of the big players that brought the term blackgaze into existence with their debut EP "Le Secret," however Neige got all wimpy with the black metal aspects without jettisoning them all together which creates a rather tenuous vacuous tinniness within the overall structure of the compositions. Well, i'm glad some people can find pleasure in this debut by ALCEST because i sure can't, but i'm all on board starting with the second album.

Report this review (#2055588)
Posted Tuesday, November 13, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars Listening diary 6th February, 2021: Alcest - Souvenirs D'un Autre Monde (blackgaze, 2007)

After returning to my vinyl collection, I gave this one a listen in a tense post-rehearsal mahjong session with the rest of my band. Alcest have always been one of our biggest influences, even to the point of over-influence, but this seems to be the one of their classic albums that we're least keen on. I still like it though, even if it's nothing on the two that followed. More subdued and romantic, and honestly there are enough good melodies here to forgive the relative lack of dynamics.

8.4 (14th listen)

Part of my listening diary from my facebook music blog - www.facebook.com/TheExoskeletalJunction

Report this review (#2596584)
Posted Friday, September 24, 2021 | Review Permalink

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