13 May 2016

Sylvaine - Wistful

It is nice to be remembered sometimes, especially by an act that is not the normal sort of music I go for.  A month or so ago, Norwegian born, Paris based artist Sylvaine got in touch asking if we would review her second album 'Wistful' that has been released on Seasons of Mist.  On my review of her first album 'Silent Chamber, Noisy Heart' (review linked here), I admitted that her music is not the normal type of music I go for; but I also stated that I admire her work ethic, her drive and the passion behind the project.  Due to various other things happening around the blog, there has been a little delay in getting this up; but I made a promise to Sylvaine that I would complete this review and I like to attempt to keep my promises.  The cover of this album is one of those images that keeps giving new details with each view, the pattern in the sun, the trees and the mist in the background, the stone and the colours; if I had not been completing this already, it would have been a prime candidate for my cover roulette series.  So with no further delay, it is time to enter the world of 'Wistful'.

Starting the album off is "Delusions" is which is also the longest song of the seventh tracks on offer; starting with a vocal mix not unlike the sound of Clannad and other acts of that ilk, Sylvaine sounds like a Siren in the mist, tempting sailors to their doom.  It is a seductive beginning to this album and one that I find myself being immersed in without little care.  It is all very gentle and relaxing, until the two minute mark when the distortion is added to the song and the waters start to change.  I like the contrast that this gives the song, a difference to the opening section of the song.  It goes between the two sections with ease, combining metal, shoegazing and atmospheric metal into a beautiful song.  It is one that will challenge some people, but for anyone with patience and the gift of hearing - it is a great opening number.  "Earthbound" starts off with a fire in its belly from the beginning, with a faster pace, growling vocals added to the mix, double bass drumming and a mixture of Anathema and little piece of Black metal added to this song just gives it such an edge in my mind.  I love the way it is relentless in pace, a sheer force of nature that is impossible to ignore; so far, this album is going very well.  "A Ghost Trapped in Limbo" is the third song on this album and the pattern of the album is starting to take a deeper shape than before, this song is a haunting post-rock, shoegazing, doomgazing number that comes for the emotions and takes no prisoners along the way.  It has a great progression with gentle lulls for your thoughts to be absorbed in, progressive heights for you to focus on the uplifting tilt to the music and it is given time to grow, to develop.  It is the number that absorbs you, embraces you and lets you lose yourself in the moment.  It is my favourite song of the album, hands down the best song on here.

"Saudade" is the next track, it begins with a guitar loops, some atmospheric synth and a military drum roll that rumbles throughout the song.  It is the shortest number on offer here, but it is still just under six minutes long.  You are once more given the opportunity to let yourself go into the music, sinking deeper into the sound as it drifts around you and makes you feel at home.  All the while, it moves along at a slow pace, incredibly hypnotic and definitely one for the patient and calm as it takes its time to reveal itself.  "In the Wake of Moments Passed by" bring the growling vocals back to the mix, combining the post-rock drone with some harrowing noise; it is a song that took me a while to settle on it, but the song won me over in the end.  It is a great piece of post rock, the intertwining vocals offer something different to the album and drive the song forwards.  The penultimate song of the album is "Like A Moth to the Flame", it continues on a similar pace to the best percentage of this album.  The music reminds me of shoegazing legends Slowdive at their peak, with a repetitive progressive pattern throughout the song.  It is smoothing on the soul, giving the natural lifts when required and the graceful quiet moments when necessary as well.  Ending the album is the title track "Wistful" which brings the curtains down on this album in a dramatic fashion, from the opening slow guitar plucking, the reverb of the guitar, the subtle synth, the sparse drumming that all build and fall when required.  Sylvaine is not given to rush things, this song requires even more patience to gain access to its charms; there is no explosions on this one, the drama is all in the sorrow which fuels the song.  It reminds me of the instrumental pieces of the 1980's film Highlander, I keep getting pictures of the Scottish Highlands in my head and it is an image that matches the song in terms of beauty.  It is a fitting ending to this album, although there is also a demo version of "Wistful" which shows the natural progression that happened when the song was being produced.

Maybe I am becoming a fan of the music after all.... I am so impressed with this album; it cannot be viewed as anything other than a success.  I am never one for sugar coating anything, but this piece of post rock/shoegazing metal is such a relaxing album that it can take any baggage you have and put it to the side.  It is not going to be an album is you want to rock out, start a party or things of that nature; however, if you want something to be absorbed in for just over an hour and to lose your train of thought - this is going to be the album for you.  So, despite the world trying to get in my way with this review, I cannot help be recommend it to anyone blessed with the gift of hearing & I will have to order the vinyl asap.

8.5 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

Top track - A Ghost Trapped in Limbo

You can purchase Wistful on Amazon here

You can purchase Wistful on the Sylvaine Bandcamp page here

You can visit the Sylvaine website here

You can follow the activities of Sylvaine on Facebook here

You can stream Wistful on Spotify here

You can stream Wistful on Deezer here

You can stream Wistful on Tidal here

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