27 October 2015

Sylvaine - Silent Chamber, Noisy Heart


I love it when musicians go out on their own and follow their unique path – when an act is able to forge ahead with their own vision in the way that acts like Omni Dimensional have done is something that I truly respect.  It is something that puts people like me to shame in so many ways, the creativity that goes into it is really awe-inspiring.  Recently I have been contacted by another one person project called Sylvaine who is a Norwegian lady currently based in Paris, according to her website she decided to start this project to express the feelings and emotions that she felt within herself.  This album is recorded and produced by Sylvaine herself with only mixing help from Nick Terry and mastering from Ray Staff.  That is a lot of control right there, you know this is going to be a very personal project from the beginning and there is obviously a lot of self-belief with is the drive behind the album.  With a lot of self-promotion, she is getting the band noticed and it is really paying off - she has toured in South America in 2014 with Alcest, she is getting a live band together so her music can be performed in the way it has been recorded, Sylvaine has also recently signed for Season of Mist who will be releasing her second album in 2016 and that is a label which always has something interesting going on.  It is paying off for Sylvaine and it shows what a lot of hard work can do, so it is time to find out what her music is all about.

Starting the album is the instrumental "Sylvaine" and it is an atmospheric track which brings to mind the atmosphere of being alone in the woods at night and the terrors that the mind can bring into focus.  It is something that has been used to great effect with other acts and it has been done here for "Silent Chamber, Noisy Heart".  Following on is "It Rains in My Heart" which is sung in both French and English, it is a song that seems to be about the empty feeling when someone withdrawal from your presence and you are left to pick up the pieces.  It is a slow paced number which builds up on a simple riff and strong keyboards.  It has a folk/medieval lament to the tune as well and I am not sure how, but some of the chord sequence reminds me of the pacing of songs such as "Ah Robin, Gentle Robin" and "Adieu To Old England" but with an added sense of drama and (obviously) more guitars.  It is slow, emotional and not without charm and passion, you can sense that a lot of time has went into this song.  Next is the title song of the album "Silent Chamber, Noisy Heart" which starts with the strumming of an acoustic guitar and it builds slowly but surely up further and further as the emotions and instruments are added to each other, this is done to support the lyrics which are open to interpretation but for me seem to be about keeping a calm exterior whilst everything inside is falling apart under the weight of the world.  It is a six minute plus song, it takes its time to reach its chorus and then it builds up one again; I really appreciate the way this song ebbs and flows, I enjoy it when songs take their time to grown and it is well worth giving time for this one to reach its peak.

The fourth track is called "TOCKA" and this song is all about being stuck behind in a metaphorical building of your mind, whilst the world passes by and you need to be saved.  Musically the tempo is raised and it has an indie rock tone to the song that reminded me in places of Radiohead if they went a little metal.  For what it is, it is well performed but it feels out of place on the record and does not help the record which is a shame.  "Bien Loin D'ici" (which is French for "Though far From Here") is another song about being separated from the world and reaching to other places to feel at home and safe.  This does a much better job than "TOCKA" for picking up the pace of the album, it is mid-paced and mixes the atmospheric elements of Sylvaine with a melancholy musical progression that sounds fragile in places, but the song itself is built on solid and strong foundations.  It is one of the strongest songs for me on this release and it is followed on by "The Biggest Loss of All" which combines the folk, shoegazing and atmospheric elements of Sylvaine's sound.  A song about the loss of innocence and the aftermath of dealing with the removal of one's former self to the world, "The Biggest Loss of All" can hardly be described as a happy, go lucky number that is uplifting and making the world a brighter place.  But that is not the purpose of the song - no, it is meant to be a reflective and thought provoking piece to show the world how Sylvaine is feeling inside and to hopefully show some people who are feeling the same elsewhere in this world that they are not alone in some ways and that there is other people who are experiencing the same emotional turmoil; It is a beautiful number which showcases the best qualities of Sylvaine.

The seventh song of the album is called "Dysphoria" and it was the first song to be released off the album on January 2014 - dysphoria is a word that means a state of unease or generalized dissatisfaction with life; it is something that is linked to feeling of anxiety and depression.  The music is apprehensive and unease, with the use of minor keys made to give the audience a sense of what is going on behind the words of the song.  I can see why it was released as the first song off the album, but I feel there are better song off the album such as "Bien Loin D'ici" & "Silent Chamber, Noisy Heart".  However, this song is more immediate in its delivery so it was the obvious choice of lead single.  Next is the instrumental "Seraphim" with mixes vocals and light percussions, it is very brief and acts as a brief interlude before "I Drink In Every Sob Like Wine" which crashes over the audience like a dark nightmare.  It is actually a beautiful song which once again is high on misery, but it is also enchanting and full of harsh contrasts of light and dark that giving it the edge over the other top tracks of the album - it is the best on offer here and I would recommend that anyone who like atmospheric/shoegazing metal to check it out. Now "I Drink...." is the last song according to the Bandcamp page, but on the Sylvaine website there is another song called "A Laugh in a Sea of Sorrow" which actually ends the album on a very high mark.  It is how I imagine All about Eve would have sounded if they listened to more metal.  It is a fast paced ending to this record which is sort of out of place to some of the other songs, but it is still a great song that adds another dimension to this artist.

Ok I will say this from the beginning as I think that people who do this sort of project need to have honest reviews from people like me - this is not something I would have normally listen to, but I am glad that Sylvaine have got in touch with us as it is a good example of what is good about this type of music.  It combines a lot of different elements and there is a lot going into the sound – there is atmospheric, folk and shoegazing metal, there is some elements of gothic rock, there is heart breaking sound to this album that is vulnerable and fragile – it all comes together really well.  For a one person project, I am impressed with the songs as they combine beauty and darkness into one drop of misery to help the broken hearted realise they are not alone in the world.  As I mentioned it is not my cup of tea, but I can see the effort that has went into this album and if you like your music to edge towards the inward, reflective and atmospheric then I would truly recommend this album.  For what it is worth, I will also be checking out Sylvaine’s second album next year and for a type of music that is not my preferred style I think that shows that a project that is built with passion can always be appreciated by a fan of any type of genre – this is a beauty piece of atmospheric music.

7 out of ten - This is good and worth checking out

Top track - I Drink in Every Sob like Wine

You can purchase Silent Chamber, Noisy Heart on Bandcamp here, you can also stream it there as well - but only for limited time before you have to purchase it

You can visit the Sylvaine website here, where you can also purchase and stream the album

You can follow the activities of Sylvaine on Facebook here

The album is not available on Spotify, Deezer, etc.

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