[Reviewed by: Iaha Crax]
This French new assembly is comprised of Frédéric Oberland, Stéphane Pigneul (FareWell Poetry, Le Réveil des Tropiques), Ben McConnel (drummer in Beach House, Rain Machine and others) and the photographer/ filmmaker Stéphane C. They recorded this first album live in three days and released it under the SubRosa label. Well, it’s not that new, as it actually saw the light of day in 2012 and since then the project has been mostly praised for their eclectic and highly sincere approach to music and philosophy. The fact that they have been chosen by the Belgian label is certainly more than just a recommendation, as Sub Rosa represents a sort of musical museum for artistry tastes.
Oiseaux–Tempête considers the interweaving of the musical, thematic and visual aspects of their creations as highly significant. Their music is actually a performance of a dramatic scale that ranges feelings and reactions on different psychological levels and involves the organic reception of their creations. They have effectively built the songs around a thematic nucleus drifting in ever changing sound motions and états d’âme.
The metal scene has been seeded up to saturation with this generally labeled post-rock genre and it becomes irritatingly difficult to filter pearls still fit to decorate the genuine crowns. The “Opening theme (Ablaze in the Distance)” makes use of the common ingredients of this style, ascending on tremolo picks up until that, obsolete by now, black metal coronation. Still, the French set a lighter and more progressive rhythm originating in old rock masters like Pink Floyd. Few artists have the gift to create such an intimate connection to the audience, a participation that mostly occurs during live shows or live recordings like this one. Such is the case when a band creates a strange personal feeling out of simple melodies like the ambient keyboard tune on “Sophia’s Shadow”. You can hear background street noises that connect this beautiful music line to the world around. And this is also the case on “Buy Gold (Beat Song)” where somehow Ulver’s last mystical period is churned under auspices of social depression and the futility of life.
Most of the time life is improvisation on the birthplace and origin theme, a fact that music suggests with sudden sonic developments glued on the remnants of technical awareness. We are passing corridors of absurdity in the hope that something awaits us after all. Sometimes this trespassing is indifferent in its shallowness, like the irritatingly calm theme from “La Traversée”, and other times the only thing changing is the color around us and not inside us, as perhaps “Nuage Noir” make us feel.
There are of course ways out available for all of us, like the blindfolded march to church so sardonically painted on “Kyrie Eleison”. The harsh, clownish parade of the melody is rhymed by tough, mocking drumbeats and Slavonic mass invocations of a Divinity that sees its necessity just for the sake of salvation. Then, “Silencer” interludes to appease and soften a certain desire for self-mockery.
“Ouroboros” marks the pièce de résistance of the record, by its length (more than 17 minutes) as well as the enduring contemplation it requires. It’s a beautiful, almost free arrangement dictated by the smooth coiling of the snake devouring its tail and softly ceasing our wanting. After 10 minutes of light divagations, the grip tightens and the tune gains in doom-laden oppression. Technically, the funeral doom reaches expiration possibilities and tends to sludge post-rock, building rainbows and liberating dimensions.
It’s not mean to observe the fact that extreme metal fans coming to a mature age are inclined towards the post-rock genre after being forced to cope with social responsibilities. Perhaps some are found in this sometimes euphemistic stylization by means of saturation (literally spleen) or simply resignation. Indeed, not only sarcastically put, such a genre is economically valuable and durable, an idea I personally developed from the following track, “Call John Carcone” (a finance professional, if I am correct), that thrives on the post-rock pattern and smears it with convulsive frequencies.
“L’île” is constructed on cold bass pickings and keyboard ambient with alien noises depicting a remote place (perhaps Jules Verne’s “Mysterious Island”? ) of shelter and forgetfulness. Once again these birds of the storm poets fly away to pick up eerie vaporous sounds and pour them into our thrilled, expectant ears. A joining effect reminiscent of Troum and Elend (Nightime Birds) alike, in a mélange of tragic ambience and shivering declamation, allegedly (or not) ending in the “Outro (For The Following)”, pointing out the pervading hopelessness that stigmatizes the whole record.
Those who are in possession of this double LP will be delighted, as the music is truly accompanied by the pictures of the endowed Stéphane C. The images are not mere allegories for the music, but actually abbreviations of the pertaining regard upon society. The solely glimpse at these immobile stanzas are meant to help you in approaching the music that Oiseaux–Tempête painted ,as if music were a mirror carried along a high road: “ Un miroir qui se promène sur une grande route” – Stendhal.