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Alcest - Souvenirs D'Un Autre Monde CD (album) cover

SOUVENIRS D'UN AUTRE MONDE

Alcest

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.78 | 137 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
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.

siLLy puPPy | 2/5 |

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