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Les Voyages De L'Ame (LP White Vinyl)

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Vinyl, January 31, 2012
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

"Les Voyages de L'âme" ("The Journeys of the Soul") is Alcest's third album and contains the quintessence of the group's creative work to date. While "Le Secret," the debut EP from 2005, was the key to the world of Alcest, "Les Voyages ..." unites everything that characterizes Alcest in terms of concept and music. Something that is common to all of the songs is the predominant feeling of euphoria and bliss, always subtly overshadowed by melancholia and yearning. "Les Voyages de L'âme" is a prime example of a wonderful piece of music, breaking all genre boundaries and enthusing fans of many different musical backgrounds. "Les Voyages de L'âme" is available in a regular jewel case edition, in special limited deluxe digipak format and as either black or white vinyl, gatefold LP.

Review

French black metal has always been full of conceptual weirdness that pushes at the genre's narrow boundaries. The experimental tendencies of Deathspell Omega and Blut Aus Nord, to cite two examples, used black metal's nihilistic imagery, its buzzing attack, and screamed vocals to create different sonic palettes that bordered on the experimental -- no matter how aggressive. None have pushed the envelope as far as Alcest, however, with its meld of black metal's buzz, shoegaze's gorgeous melodies, ambient soundscapes, and feedback. Les Voyages de l'Âme, Alcest's third full-length, arrives with great expectations based -- rightfully -- on the shock-of-the-new that greeted their debut, Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde, and its more compelling follow-up Ecailles de Lune. Alcest stands in its own "blackgaze" space at the crossroads of Burzum's Filosofem and My Bloody Valentine's Loveless. But one wonders how black that space can actually be with melodies that are so consciously attractive and lyrics that reject negativity. Founder, songwriter, and guitarist Neige was a one-man show until recently when Winterhalter was added on drums, and two more musicians for performances. Which brings us to Les Voyages de l'Âme (translation: Journeys of the Soul). 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. The sense of "heaviness" in the mix is pronounced, it uses aggression in a celebratory manner as evidenced by opener "Autre Temps" and closer "Summer Glory." Even at its harshest, when Neige is screaming, as on Là où Naissent les Couleurs Nouvelles and Faiseurs de Mondes," the melodic beauty of the guitars seems to open further, ensuring balance. This is not music created to accuse or express violence of any kind; its invitation to the listener to enter into their soundworld is a cornerstone in Alcest's aesthetic. Les Voyages de l'Âme is a conscious synthesis of the music from their two previous albums, rather than a move forward. And that's fine: assessment and integration and perfecting previous ideas and forms are important aspects of any serious attempt at making art. And make no mistake, Les Voyages de l'Âme attempts just that. Whether it's their finest recorded moment is a debate listeners will have to have internally. That said, Les Voyages de l'Âme is a great record; self- defining and alluringly elusive. --Thom Jurek - All Music Guide


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
7. Havens
8. Summer's glory

Product Details

  • Vinyl (January 31, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Prophecy Productions
  • ASIN: B0066ELIS2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #422,741 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Zadion on June 8, 2012
Format: Audio CD
"We humans tend to allow the past to destroy our lives. I implore you not to let this happen. It is time to look forward, to rediscover love, and embrace the beauty of life."

This is a quote that comes to my mind when trying to describe the essence of Les Voyages de l'Âme (literal translation: "The Voyages of the Soul"). Alcest has released a brew of controversy by hypercritical metal elitists everywhere by releasing music like this. Black metal has always earned its controversial reception by being dark and sinister (as well as Satanic, but that's irrelevant). Alcest, however, roves about the black metal scene in controversy by doing the very opposite: evoking hope and tranquility, adjectives I'd never thought I'd hear fittingly for any band or project falling under the black metal genre.

So, if I haven't said it yet, I'll say it now: Alcest is an enchanting manifestation of hope and beauty. Every song on Les Voyages de l'Âme is laced with calming melodies, constructed by simple yet powerful riffing and Neige's ethereal voice. What sets this back from doom bands and the ilk is the uplifting atmosphere of the melodies. Other atmospheric bands search for a dark, somber, and haunting feel to impress upon its listeners, but Les Voyages de l'Âme does things far differently. While some songs have a touch of melancholy, they, more often than not, possess a hopeful aura about them. Uniquely to any metal band, I can listen to these songs and forget about the pains and sufferings of my past. I listen to this, and it touches my soul with a will to..."embrace the beauty of life."

What, then, holds this album back? Once the veil of beauty is pierced, the listener is left with little to enjoy.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Kurt Randall Kraemer on March 14, 2012
Format: Audio CD
Alcest has come up with their most varied, atmospheric, and melodious album of their career. Combining melodies that cross boundaries with many genres, Alcest has set the bar high for the balance of the year in the above genres of music even though, it is still early 2012. "Le Voyages de L'ame" is the most amazing thing I've heard in awhile.

"Neige" and company have put together the most incredible soundscape, and aural experience that could be truly best be experienced in a set of "fine" headphones.

This will absolutely transport you to another planet!

Production Values on this are superior; you can actually discern the tracking of acoustic guitars, multiple electric guitars,
and "ripping" lead breaks in every track. Incredible Drum Mix on whole album. Nothing meanders pointlessly, and every track has the proper length for flow and continuity. The Vocals by Neige border on the ethereal, even the multi-tracked harmony and backing vocals. Even though there were fewer Black Metal vocals than past LPs, I am sure that will be forgiven, given the overall experience of taking this all in at one time. Although each track is incredible by itself, the full measure of this masterpiece, begs you to take the full ride from start to finish.
Take the time; its worth the trip and you won't be disappointed you did.

This is Alcest at their best, and possibly their most accessible release. This is a great album to test out your new sound system with, and surely a disc that won't be leaving your rotation anytime soon.

Incredible Stuff, contender for Album of the Year in lots of Genres.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Ian C. Murphy on January 18, 2012
Format: MP3 Music
Like many, I discovered Alcest with Ecailes De Lune, then explored their back catalog, Amesoeurs, Lantlos, etc.

As much as I liked EDL, I thought it had a bit too many mood pieces, and wasn't particularlly long.

The new record combines the sound of the three previous Alcest albums, polishes it to a fine sheen and delivers many more 'songs' that EDL. This may become my favorite Alcest album, and there is no filler, no misses on it. The only thing I miss are a few more of the black metal vocals that appeared on EDL, but I can live with it.

Highly recommended!
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I don't speak French but that is hardly a barrier when it comes to enjoying Les Voyages de L'ame. While it is still growing on me, I have been nothing but impressed with the musicianship and the overall feel of the music. Being a fan of the softer side of bands like Opeth and Novembers Doom, Alcest was a match made in heaven for me. The guitar tone, the choruses, and the minimal black metal vocals (which add a nice edge to an otherwise fairly laid back album) were all pluses in my eyes. The tempo never picks up to typical, crazy chaotic black metal madness but keeps more of a subtle, Agalloch tempo minus the sometimes overdone whispered growls. Somehow this album is also considered Shoegaze, another genre I have a guilty pleasure for, which just adds another perk to what is easily among the best albums I have heard in a good long while.

If you're into metal but not necessarily into the super intense, blistering, pounding your head in guitars then this album should give you everything you're looking for without any of the extremities that might put you off.
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I hate tags. You hear a band with a more wide open guitar chord style as opposed to the more rhythmic punch of thrash or death metal and that band gets labelled black metal, whether the music bears any other sonic resemblance or not. Plus, the stupid term of shoegaze has been overdone to describe anything of an introspective bent. Who comes up with this categorization crap anyway?
"Les Voyages de L'ame" is a journey into deep inner space, with layers of guitars that caress, swoop, dive and sometimes sting, amid beautiful ambience that makes the music much more palatable to a broader range of listeners. By referring Alcest to black metal, we pigeonhole them and potential fans who don't like their metal or any rock music as extreme will not listen. And really, what does Alcest have sonically to do with Immortal or Mayhem, both flag bearers of black metal, but otherwise not related to Niege and his unique vision?
This third album is sung in French, and that by itself adds to the allure. Niege's soft tranquil voice is an instrument in itself, and he keeps busy playing everything but drums on this CD. For those looking for rock that transports them to a better place, at least while the CD is on, and appreciate real musical dynamics, which so many outfits plainly lack, "Les Voyages de L'ame" is that album, a great lead up to their newest release, "Shelter", which ditches distorted guitars altogether and is even more mesmerizing. This is beautiful music.
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