17 January, 2014

Full Album Stream: Alcest: Shelter – new album


Well, it is finally here – right on time too, it’s January after all – and it is streaming in its a-long-journey-into-vast-new-creative-terrain-entirety here (Prophecy Productions YouTube channel), and below. ALCEST's fourth longplayer is called ‘Shelter’ (“The title describes [the album's] concept. These songs are about shelter as a safe place that allows everybody to escape reality for an instant, to reunite with what we really are, deep down. Neige's [and yours' truly, although separately] own escape was to the sea, and all the songs here were inspired by and dedicated to it.”) and is out now, January the 17th, 2014 in Europe, through Prophecy Productions. It will be distributed in North America from January the 21st on through Dismanic/eOne. Contemporary shoegazers ALCEST (made up of guitarist, bassist, keyboardist and vocalist Niege and drummer Winterhalter) latest effort was recorded at Sundlaugin Studio in Iceland, with SIGUR ROS producer Birgir Jón Birgisson “who masterfully gave ‘Shelter’ its light and ethereal sound”. ‘Shelter’ also (reportedly) “embraces the dreamy guitar textures of shoegaze and blends it with the sweetness of british band COCTEAU TWINS - dream pop pioneers of the mid to late 80's era [good grief!]- epic, soundtrack-like melodies and progressive song structures” and features guest appearances from SLOWDRIVE's Neil Halstead, PROMISE AND THE MONSTER's Billie Lindahl and AMIINA's strings. The album awaits your order here (Prophecy Productions' store) and comes available as CD, as gatefold LP, as double CD hardcover book, plus additional limited editions – check them out. But first become familiar with the entity that is ALCEST:
“ALCEST - that is music from another world, a world that is real, but that exists beyond ours and cannot be grasped by our senses. A world where all appearances - trees, glades, streams - emit a pearly light and where a faraway and celestial music fills the air like sweet perfume. A world inhabited by infinitely benevolent and protective beings of light, communicating in a wordless “language” directly from one soul to another. A world where the soul knows neither pain nor sickness nor sorrow, but is filled with a deep peace and an ineffable bliss. A world that lies “before” and “after”, “beside” and “behind” our world and the awareness of which stills mankind's fears of death. This world is no dream and no fantasy. Neige, the creative mind of ALCEST, knows it - he has experienced it and keeps memories of how it revealed itself to him in the form of esoteric experiences in his early life. ALCEST is his medium to come to terms with these memories and to share them with others:”

First envisioned in 1999 by Neige (PESTE NOIRE, MORTIFERA, OLD SILVER KEY etc) as a solo project, the vision became a developed band for a short while as Hegnor and Arguth joined the campaign. As a trio, ALCEST released a plain black metal demo entitled ‘Tristesse Hivernale’ through Drakkar Productions in 1999, after which ALCEST's founder, being left to his own devices, immersed himself into “the otherworld” for the first time. An EP, ‘Le Secret’, was released in 2005 and eventually re-released by Prophecy Productions in 2011:
“No matter which version of ‘Le Secret’ you prefer, it remains a very special record, as it lays out in total the first aural manifesto that all the work of ALCEST to date was based upon, and shows just how far apart the unit is, in content and form, from other shoegaze metal acts. This is the door to a powerful, poetic, unsettling world of bliss that still challenges the sense of hearing even as it delights,” [commented Thom Jurek, AllMusic – more here]
ALCEST's debut full-length, 2007's ‘Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde’ – described by Allmusic's Brian Way as “a monstrous, churning, epic guitar album - without a single guitar solo!” was met with similar critical praise. A split EP with ANGMAR followed in 2007, with another split with LES DISCRETS following in 2009. Much anticipated second full-length, 2010's ‘Écailles de Lune’, was lovingly reviewed by Ned Raggett, Allmusic:
“The first half of the two-part title track that begins the album starts with a gentle guitar chime before the full skyscraping riff kicks in, but - instead of getting even more intense as it goes – it’s happy to turn even more elegantly beautiful, letting moments of strutting rock brawl feel more like exaltation than destruction. Neige's singing is some of his loveliest at many points throughout the album, a soft keen toward the middle of the second half of the title track, a low and contemplative rumination elsewhere - if not notably different from his earlier work in approach, it’s at its most enjoyable here, and perhaps at its most beautifully serene on ‘Solar Song’, vocals overlaid to lovely effect,” [more here]
In January 2012, ALCEST released their third album titled ‘Les Voyages De L'Âme’ (French for: the journeys of the soul); it was once again met with critical and commercial success:
“Since the concept of ALCEST's sound is no longer new or novel, the music has to be judged on its own merit. Their sound is essentially unchanged, though its production values have improved. In its harmonic sophistication and layered sonic wash, its ability to create something approaching bliss has increased. Neige's vocals, decipherable at times, are all in French. They’re meant to be another layer of that atmospheric palette; when they can be understood in the mix they celebrate something spiritually positive, distancing their music from that of black metal even further. Multi-tracked electric and acoustic guitars and tension-tuned basses meet washes of synth and Winterhalter's tom-tom-heavy drum attack (no blastbeats) in songs that stay far from the nihilism and embrace the experience of beauty found in the indefinable space between spiritual, human, and natural worlds,” [gushed Thom Yurek, AllMusic - more here:]

ALCEST features: Neige – guitars, bass, synths and vocals and Winterhalter – drums 

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