Every once in a while I find that it is alright to revert our minds into the times of knights in shining armor and the Guillotine. There is a lucid feeling that one gets when off in the clouds of ‘the great escape.’ It is enough to know that there is some place to turn to when the walls of today are crumbling to the floors of tomorrow. I once came across Alcest while surfing through the “related videos” on YouTube — I watched the video for their single “Atre Temps,” and was captivated, not by the video but the story going on behind it all. Although it is a proven fact that I know nothing of the French languge besides “Que’ce que tu fais?” and “Bonjour,” it was nice to know that this exotic poetry could capture me so. Alcest’s “Les Voyages De L’Âme” (6 January 2012 in Germany and Austria, 9 January 2012 in Europe, and 31 January 2012 in the USA) is their third album, and being that I’ve never truly been a fan to shoegaze, I just might have to put up my white flag and surrender. Hailing from Bagnols-sur-Cèze, France is a sort of musical architecture that has aligned itself on the borderline of two worlds — imaginary and reality. And often people find it a challenge to evenly balance the two, yet as it seems Alcest took the challenge into deep consideration and created “Les Voyages De L’Âme” [English translation: “The Journeys of the Soul”].
The album begins with “Atre Temps” [“Another Time”], where initially we are set out in a distant land that somehow manages to remind one of “Lord of The Rings;” birds are flocking overhead (the gentle stinging of the guitar), and the clouds are fast forwarded and slowed in a simultaneous manner as Neige produces his vocals which seems to caress the listeners ears. Initially placing us in a foreign atmosphere where we are free to do as we please (bear with me), we are serenaded through a course that will lead us to ancient dragons and maybe even a castle or two, but ultimately we will pass by everglades and streams that we can touch and feel with the strumming of the guitars, the beating of the drums and the subtle vocals leading us through these magnificent acres of land. To cast aside the imagery for a moment—the fact that Alcest took the time to create such an intricate piece is what has seemed to capture me the most, in contrast to that there is also a need to understand that this band puts in the effort when composing their works of art.
The next track that I must mention is of course the titular track “Les Voyages De L'Âme,” truly the official entrance into this world where there are no restraints. When thinking in terms of both the album and track title, there is a sense of knowing. The musical narrative displays a lavished portrayal of the world of the “unknown,” yet as Alcest leads us through this place it is enough to realize that we might know too much. Personally I find this track to be one of my favorites simply because of the complete tenderness it conveys, not only that but it leaves you with a thirst that seems to be unquenchable until you have reached the very last song on the album.
The closing track is “Summer’s Glory,” and when taken into deep consideration it is very much similar to a track that would be played at the end of an extraordinarily epic adventure. With this track being the second longest on the album, it also gives a complete summary of what one’s “soul” might have been through. “Summer’s Glory” is an incredible track simply because of the florescence that shines through much like being in a forest of leaves with the sun setting in the distance of it all. There is no comparing when it comes to the opening or the ending tracks on “Les Voyages De L'Âme” but what should be left to remember is that Alcest traded reality for idealism and painted it upon the blank canvas of their listeners’ minds.
And I am left with nothing more to say than if you’re someone who enjoys indulging in a little bit of shoegaze or even maybe a trip far away from reality, then this is your band. With the release of this exceptionally mesmerizing album, it’s honestly worth the listen if you happen to have some free time on your hands. And try not to be shy; in the surrealism that Alcest has created in “Les Voyages De L'Âme,” anything is possible.
1, Autre Temps
2, Là Où Naissent Les Couleurs Nouvelles
3, Les Voyages De L'Âme
4. Nous Sommes L'Emeraude
5. Beings Of Light
6. Faiseurs De Mondes
8. Summer's Glory
Keep up with Alcest at their homepage, Myspace, and Facebook.
Here is their video for “Autre Temps” from the prophecyBC YouTube Channel.