Les Discrets – Septembre Et Ses Dernieres Pensees

Don’t blame yourself if you haven’t heard of this album; in the coming weeks, I’m going to make it my duty to call notice to a few choice albums, some more recent than others, that are flying under people’s radars left and right. After all, you don’t have to have another site tell you how good Plastic Beach or Fang Island (big ups to their label Sargent House for featuring Mason’s review on their facebook page) are.

So we find ourselves with a bit of an odd combination: shoegaze and black metal. Not that it hasn’t been done before (and brilliantly so by Have A Nice Life, who will be reviewed shortly here after), but the combination of two almost totally unrelated genres seems to speak to the current trend in music, with metal slowly sliding into indie and vice versa (e.g. Russian Circles, Fang Island, Loss Of A Child, etc.). The only difference this time is that it seems three Frenchmen, or rather two Frenchmen and one incredibly good-looking French woman, have decided to mix Weakling with My Bloody Valentine, with results that are not only a proof-of-concept of the penultimate combination of two genre heavy-weights.

When you think about it, black metal and shoegaze don’t fall too far apart from the tree. Both are about repetition, wandering feedback, atmosphere, the combination of the beautiful and the repulsive, and most of all, both lived and died in the 90s. Weakling and Burzum might as well have been paid royalties by contemporary acts and My Bloody Valentine and Flying Saucer Attack (well, okay, mostly MBV) burnt out faster than they came. Sure, there are the likes of No Age and Krallice that carry the torches of their respective genres, but the biggest acts died out years ago, which is a big reason why Les Discrets are so arresting; how can something so nostalgic sound so damn fresh?

Perhaps it’s the added production value, with every double-bass blast beat rhythm coming through perfectly and unruly distorted guitars being serenely tethered to the floors of the studio. You don’t have to worry about any one aspect, whether it’s Fursy Teyssier and A. Hadorn’s sensual, evocative drones, the pristine acoustic guitars that ankle the music down into realms of folk metal melodramatic cinematics, the obviously dripping guitar riffs, or the absolute perfect drumming courtesy of Winterhalter. Unlike the shitgaze of today, or even Burzum’s latest album, the production values here are sky-high, which should theoretically disarm the album’s sound, but in reality, the revelatory nature of the clean studio adds miles to the final product.

That’s not to say it undercuts it’s general genre troupes, despite a general (thankful) lack of introspective wandering. This is a very focused album and a very straight-forward album, with songs like “Effet De Nuit” and “Les Feuilles De L’olivier” coming off as intense, riff-centric, and just plain fucking awesome. Without a weak song on the album and a great use of acoustic guitar that isn’t simply relegated to background strumming or interlude fronting, Septembre Et Ses Dernieres Pensees is an album that is universal despite it’s foreign language trappings. Despite the language barrier, the vocals add a particular sensuality to the sound, with plenty of over-dubbing, echoing, and vocal harmonies between the male and female leads. Described as “songs about nature love and death” on the band’s myspace, you come to believe this sentiment despite a most-likely French-lacking tongue.

Conviction is not relegated simply to the vocals though, with the instrumentation being near perfect, with the drumming in particular by Winterhalter, who seamlessly transitions between progressive wander and intense black bass-hunting. You can feel the entire songs practically clinging for dear life upon the drifting drum pallets. However, despite the show-stealing by the leathers, the strings come off particularly well, with mid-tempo strum riffs practically cutting the thick, atmospheric haze, and guitar solos, such as the grandiose brevity of the one found on “Chanson D’automne”, ring convincingly out and fit right in despite all of the dread and dramatics surrounding the emotional core.

Whether it’s the immediacy, the effortless blending of folk, black metal, shoegaze, psychedelia, and doom, the tip-top production showcase that is the instrumentation, or the life-and-death conviction these three play with, Septembre Et Ses Dernieres Pensees is a mind-blowing experience. Beg, borrow, but don’t steal to get this album; these guys (and gal) have forged a masterpiece of form, function, and theatrical dramatics that deserves to be heard, enjoyed, and supported like all good albums, especially of lesser known bands. You might not be able to pronounce their name, but you can read this: this album is the one to beat for 2010 where metal is concerned, maybe even overall.

Score: A-

by Trevor “Raising that Last.fm fan count” Johnson

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1 Comment

  1. Another New Review! Yay! « Avery Island: Musical Opinions From Music Geeks said,

    […] Les Discret –  Septembre Et Ses Dernieres Pensees Review by Trevor Johnson […]

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