Stéphane Paut, aka Neige, is the French multi-instrumentalist behind the post-black metal/shoegaze/whatever project Alcest (see, also, Amesoeurs, Forgotten Woods, ex-Peste Noire, etc). The last Alcest full-length Souvenirs D’un Autre Monde did really well on my Best Of 2007 list, but if I had it do over, it’d jump from No. 6 to No. 3. I never get sick of it. In fact, I’m still adjusting to the followup Écailles De Lune, “Moon Scales,” largely because I listen to its predecessor so regularly. Écailles is a gorgeous, moving, year-end best bound collection, but it’s a shift. When I spoke with Neige a few years ago about Alcest he told me the project was based on visions he had as a child of “an indescribably beautiful place where everything– trees, glades, and brooks– produces a pearly light and where a faraway and celestial music floats in the air like a perfume” and that Alcest’s “initial concept” included (and still includes) a focus on:
Innocence, the contemplation of beauty, nostalgia of precious moments, sadness of love, out of the grip of time etc … I deal with them in the most discreet and clever way I can. It’s a difficult task to find the right balance in order to avoid sappiness and sentimentality (which I hate).
The new album’s darker than this, hence the “Moon” in its title. Not dark like the urban decay of Amesoeurs or the bleakness of his more straightup black metal projects, but you do get more black metal vocals and there’s a sadness creeping into the atmospherics, all of which makes the vision seem more real: “This time I was especially inspired by the seaside, the energy and the exaltation you can feel when you sit in front of the sea at night. It appears terribly fascinating, full of secrets and scary at the same time.” Or, as a few of the lyrics are translated: “I wish I was drowning in the dark waters / Receiving me in silence. / I wish I could let the cold streams / Purify my thoughts and petrify my flesh / To find sleep deep in the ocean.” For a sonic example, listen to “Percées De Lumière.” It offers a little bit of everything.
Écailles De Lune is out 4/20 via Prophecy. Alcest is doing his first U.S. tour this Spring. As a full disclosure, Haunting The Chapel is teaming up with the Blackened Music Series to do the New York date. I’d been taking a break from doing shows, but this one was too good to pass up.
04/22 – Québec, Quebec @ Bar Octobre ^
04/23 – Toronto, Ontario @ Hard Luck Bar ^
04/24 – Chicago, IL @ Reggie’s Rock Club %#
04/25 – Indianapolis, IN @ TBA %#
04/26 – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania @ TBA %
04/27 – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania @ Kung Fu Necktie !
04/28 – New Haven, Connecticut @ Cafe Nine *$
04/29 – New York, New York @ The Studio at Webster Hall *
04/30 – Montreal, Quebec @ Underworld ^
05/01 – Boston, Massachusetts @ Unit 11
^ w Monarque
% w/ Velnias
* w/ Have A Nice Life, woe
# w/ Clad in Darkness
$ w/ Mammoth Hunter
! w/ woe, Haethen