Monday, March 19, 2012

Les Discrets – Ariettes Oubliees . . .

I have no idea what to say about this album.

I think it’s brilliant. I think the soundscapes that Fursy Teyssier has created are wondrous and majestic. I think that the contributions of vocalist Audrey Hadorn are immaculate in their beauty. I think that the complexities of the musical movements are intriguing and dynamic. I think the tones are dark and foreboding. I think that Ariettes Oubliees . . . is a fantastic musical experience that begs for me to listen again and again, and at ever increasing volume. And, I think that I’m going a little mad trying to formulate a cohesive set of thoughts about this record!

The album opener is an instrumental track called “Linceul d'hiver” that is simply a beautiful, slow building mini epic. Teyssier does a great job of not rushing this song. It builds measure by measure, each measure adding a new musical element, filling all of the open space with sound, until we’re left with this densely intense wall of sound. Then, it vanishes and begins to fade away, only to drop immediately into “La Traversée” and then we, the listeners, are introduced to the dual vocal harmonies of Teyssier and Hadorn, each voice complimenting the other over a passage of strumming guitars, droning in a shoegazers fantastic voyage. Gloriously dynamic and epic, this song changes pace about three minutes in and gets a little darker, a little moodier, a little more distorted around the edges and heavier. Though the song ventures into some progressive territories, it always retains some beautiful melodies, both in the way of the haunting strains of the guitars notes and in the vocals. The song even flirts with a little heavy metal moment around the six minute mark as a well produced and captured guitar tone, distorted to the point it vibrates the teeth, but not so much that it rattles the head. The first ten-plus minutes of this album was enough for me to recognize that this was going to be a different experience than I had with the band’s first album, my beloved album of 2010, Septembre et Ses Dernières Pensées. A different experience, but maybe one that was more satisfying!

The beauty doesn’t end there. “Le Mouvement perpetual” is another 7 minute track that captures Teyssier and Hadorn feeding off each other in their elegant fashion. When I hear this song, I can almost picture the images from the album cover (vinyl edition . . . beautiful gatefold jacket . . . bonus poster . . . quality work) coming to life. Skeletal images dressed in their finest evening attire, elegantly dancing a discordant waltz across the parquet floors of a ballroom, draped in dark curtains, lit by the soft light of a meager amount of candles, and led by a dark and somewhat sinister band . . . the voices of Teyssier and Hadorn actually have a dancing quality to them, in the way they work together, breathe together . . . entwined in the rhythms of the music. Darkly romantic, almost gothic. What an amazingly emotional song!

The entire album does this . . . get’s the imagination flowing, tickling the emotions, and flooding the soul with music that moves. For over forty-two minutes, Les Discrets regale the listener this delicate sound that still has some heft to it. The pop-tinged “La nuit muette” features a huge vocal performance, layered voices that soar and never come back down. The acoustic guitar-based “Après l' Ombre”, also featured on the Prophecy Productions compilation album, Whom The Moon A Nightsong Sings, with all of its haunting tones and darkened chords, and tortured vocal melodies. “Les Regrets”, in all of its instrumental glory, with its ultra-somber, almost depressive air . . . Ariettes Oubliees is an amazing trip into the darkest recesses of the emotions and human psyche.

On the first listen, I was concerned that Ariettes Oubliees . . . wouldn’t match up or live up to my expectations based on my past experience with Septembre et Ses Dernières Pensées, and like all things new, it almost didn’t. But, I continued listening, working to separate my memories of the previous record from the sounds I was currently listening to, and I found an equally satisfying record. Top 10 Album of the Year? I can’t answer that, for the year is young and there are a lot of records coming out this year. But, I can say that I will probably be playing this disc, like I did the last one . . . in between every other release that comes out. Great work and highly recommended!


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