Review: L’Avenir – Soir

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A couple of months ago Cold Beats Records announced the fourth album by L’Avenir, titled “Soir“. In terms of aesthetics he’s been consistent but it is not the most pleasing artwork to lay your eyes upon. There’s a certain connection between each of his albums and it is noticeable even though he’s shifted to a more ethereal approach on this release. He’s kept the most interesting elements of his music and developed it into an otherworldly experience – but how that holds up in practice is what you’ll find out – in this latest track-by-track review on Repartiseraren.

The introductory for this album, “Modern World” is excitingly refreshing to hear as it starts off but when the melody is laid down in the song, it gets increasingly mind-numbing. Going from laying a creative and ethereal sound, bouncing from ambient to minimal wave, synth-pop and back again – is simply astonishing. The lyrics hold up well and the dismayed tone of the sound is also an unpleasant reminder of the topic that Jason brings up in this song.

As the song comes to a close, another melody is laid upon the frankly cheesy melody that he decided to delve too much into. This other melody is more in tune with the overall sound and fits the picturesque notion he deliver with the rhythm, drums and occasional synthesizer bravado. Conceptually the song is much better, however it lacks severely in captivating melodies and make it a blunder in terms of the passage between the intro and the outro.

Desert” is way more of a stable track, which in its essence has a great melody and move toward a decent sound. The problem with the song is that it suffers from the opposite of what the first one did, that is the vocals and lyrical content isn’t that good to begin with -but the melodies, rhythm and everything else that carries the atmosphere and develops it into something more are consistently surprising – in a good way. The alarming nature of high-note synthesizers is reminiscent of Person:A.

Another thing must be said about this and that is how the rhythm in the beginning slowly drags the listener into the sound-scape and lets the ambient side of L’Avenir glisten. It is good that the vocals and the lyrics don’t take up much of a space in general and that one can drift away, enjoying the remainder of the music itself and how he professionally crafts what is his own sound.

InThe Stranger” the beats get heavier and more pulsating. There’s an eerie darkness and the synthesizers get to be in the background a lot more, as the vocals and the rhythm are the first and foremost benefiters in this song. The rhythm is simple yet hypnotizing when the base drum resounds and the snare drum hits, a very unchanging atmosphere that relies on what already has been presented in the beginning of it. It’s overall the best sounding tune so far.

As it switches into more ambient settings the further in you get, the melodies layer beautifully upon one another and connect marvelously, inserting that much needed emotional touch which L’Avenir can pull off brilliantly. This is where the transition into “Mirror Men” goes painfully, as they share many of the elements that made “The Stranger” and “Desert” much better then “Modern World“.

WithMirror Men” you can almost hear some of the hints that are so lovable in Drab Majesty, for example. A sound-scape clad in an ethereal form, where smoke sifts through the cracks and give off a mysteriously but huge atmospheric draped in a synth-pop outfit. The melodies are crystal clear and put forth some kind of eerie existentialist but immortal vibe to it. Your body is more then a vessel, it is one metaphysical step closer to god and the divine. The beats have also become more concentrated and punched up, there’s more guts in this song.

Silence Shouts” become more of a standardized song for “Soir” after the aforementioned one. A bridge to something else. But he utilizes the differentiating vocals in this song to create a worthwhile listening experience. The more you get into it the further it develops in the background, together with the constant synthesizer-baseline and then a grandiose section is dropped in – the synthesizers get more brazen and deliver a more confident version of the same song. Hearing the different components go out of their way, some of them in a minuscule fashion, others drift away into complex melodies, is very satisfying.

Then comes a transgression from regular minimal synth and synth-pop, a more electronic body music oriented vibe in “Winter Calls“. If the other songs had a string of sublimity in it – this is when the hammer hits the nail – it is without any mysterious intent and more with a colder touch. Here’s where the concept have been on point with the actual song it self. As the beats stumble more and stutter, the synthesizers are more concentrated then ever. It doesn’t stand and fall with the rhythm and beats, it stands on its own in melodies and general atmosphere.

Now whenOutside” comes on, it hits right at home but there’s something off with the sound, one doesn’t know if it is intentional or if it is the masterer’s fault. We on Repartiseraren have released “Outside (Just Like Home)” on a compilation before this. It sounds a bit different. The melodies should be more apparent then they really are, the beats are too hollow and in front of the atmosphere that should be felt in a different way. It is as if someone activated a drum-machine and had the intentions of making another song, at the same time that L’Avenir made “Outside“. It doesn’t really fit.

It is one of the more serious disappointments on this release. “What Happened To Yesterday” is, however, a great example of the adaptiveness of Jason’s music as it is a pure synth-pop gem. The melodies are central and bring out the soul of the song immaculately. Even though some parts of it ain’t my cup of tea, one can not dismiss it in its entirety. Atmospherically the song is huge and covers more territory then any other on this album. Synthesizers are in the background and foreground without the rhythm or beats interfering in an awkward way. A great addition to a so far alright release.

The songVivet” is more playful in its style and stray away from the seriousness in the music at times, giving it a more ambiguous feeling while listening to it. A very dancefloor-friendly song. Rhythmically it is enchanting and nothing bad could be said about it, it is the embodiment of what L’Avenir tries to say and establish with this release. It is funny how the songs gradually get better, then as they get better it turns for the worse and come back to the greater side where they could’ve stayed in the first place.

Had this album been released in August or September instead, “August” would’ve been the epitome of an outro – the change from summer to fall – for better or worse. A sullen baseline carries the rhythm of sharpened beats that steadily marks the end of “Soir“. Even though you’ve already been given a lot to listen to, it doesn’t end with the outdrawn melodies and simple beats to shut everything down and call it a day, there are bonus tracks and remixes available as well. Let’s take them on.

Interestingly enough, “No Destination (Bonus Track)” is a really experimental gem that should’ve been saved for the b-side instead of one of the other songs. Not to mention “Fault” – which is quite frankly one of the best songs on this release. Even though one gets why “No Destination” doesn’t fit the album, “Fault” could’ve easily outmaneuvered one of the A-Side tracks – because it is really, really great. The fast-paced rhythm, playful synthesizer melodies and overall great, ambitious sound-scape is reason enough.

Denial (Bonus Track)” is also one of those songs that would’ve made it better on the line-up for the original line-up. It has a well-crafted atmosphere and even though it might be a bit more experimental, it is way better and more inspiring then “Moonlight (Bonus Track)“. Experimentalism doesn’t always have to be on the bad side of the spectrum, it could very well be a more enthralling song more fitting on an album such as this.

Remixes, what about them? Well, they’re in most cases hit or miss – oftentimes more a miss. Forever Grey make a reasonably ok attempt at their version of “Mirror Men“, but the original stands much taller and this remix does nothing to stand out on its own, not a memorable attempt either. But there’s something about it that is charming but it is reserved for some parts of the remix only. Since the original song “Outside” was ruined, it is nice to hear the Person:A-remix which deliver some really claustrophobic, minimalistic cold-wave interpretation of the original. He’s managed to pull off a really ominously sounding melody, that make the song less upbeat and more downbeat.

The breakdowns made by Kline Coma Xero on “What Happened To Yesterday” are charming but not enough to be considered great, but it adds a different touch and a whole new version of the original track, that coupled with auto-tuning gives it an experimental electronic and electro-ish vibe. MAKiNA GiRGiR‘s rework of  the same song almost makes it a chiptune tribute, one of the best remixes on this album for sure. They have a really minimalistic approach and it becomes a song on its own, ready to stand by itself in the atmosphere they’ve created and especially the melodies.

When the song “Silent Shouts” get the remix treatment by Nina Belief, it unfortunately falls on its own into the category of uninspiring. Had the beats matched the tempo better and her vocals as well, it might’ve been an off-shoot into something different and more alluring. This is most definitely a miss in terms of the remixes. The remix of “The Stranger” by Lola Kumtus is not anything interesting either, unfortunately. It just rehashes the song and makes it more cloudy, repetitive and basic.

So this is what I think of this album. In terms of the overall quality the record is not the best L’Avenir can do but it is worth listening to, since it contains a few really great songs and some that are not as great. You can listen to the album in full down below and if you like it, you can order a double-CD or a vinyl as well from Cold Beats Records.

 

 

Exclusive Premiere: Seacrypt – The Messenger

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Two years ago, I discovered the experimental synth/darkwave group Seacrypt. This was back when they had just released their album “A Momentary Rift” on Katabatik, on a cassette – with eight totally loveable songs. Said and done, I interviewed them and got to know more about them as a group and in particular; Michael Buchanan. He’s probably most known as one part of Nommo Ogo, a psychedelic noise group that dates back to the 1990’s. But he’s also got a project called Identity Theft, a solo-project of his where he’s already released a compilation, and two mini-albums. Even though he’s not the sole member of Seacrypt, he does a lot within that group. The other members do a lot too, and it also consists of Chelsea Friedmans‘ and Paul Sutfins‘ wonderful voices and synth-work. When they released the debut-album back in 2012, not much was heard from them until they appeared on a compilation by Sweating Tapes called “A Compilation. Volume 2: The Bay Area“, with the track “Paper Horses“. Since then, they’ve worked on a full-length album, which was just released by the Makina GirGir-run label Falco Invernale Records (F.I.R.), titled “Seekers“. What struck me as odd was how their style of music was still there, but with the added character of pure synth-pop to their otherwise experimental sound. A more well-rounded and warm release, even though the first release is worth its weight in gold.

Since I’ve always been interested in them in one way or another, I decided to get a piece of the cake. That meant acquiring the wonderfully rhythmic track “The Messenger“, a track that opens up a whole other world of the genres that Seacrypt operate within. An almost erratic cold-wave sound is coupled with a gloomy atmosphere, a mystic kind of atmosphere. Featuring the wonderful voice of who could either be Paul Sutfins or Michael Buchanan, though it would be embarrassing for me to take a wild guess. The album itself is a really good album that shows the versatility of their group. How they have adapted and made a whole new sound out of the hardware they’re using. The difference is notable, but it is also interesting how they draw out the best from their sound and form another layer upon it. Well, now you can stream their track “The Meseenger“, a song taken from the B-side of their release, exclusively on Repartiseraren. Indulge yourself in what you’ve been missing all these years, because Seacrypt is symptomatic of what greatness you can achieve just if you step outside of your own box. Stream and listen to the track exclusively down below.

Beläten and Invisible Guy presents: Shadow Rite – A Beläten Mixtape!

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Beläten have long been a proponent of Invisible Guy, or at least as long as we’ve been collaborating with each other. Thomas Ekelund is the head of this gargantuan Swedish label. It seems larger then it is, but it actually is what it seems. Invisible Guy have been a proponent of Beläten, since it’s one of the best and most exquisite labels today. It also makes me proud that it comes out of Sweden, my homestead. Earlier, he’s mixed the mixtape “Visions and Light“. This mixtape is the second one in these unofficial “series“. With 50% forthcoming material that’s going out on Beläten later this year, mixed with the majestic wonders of aufnahme + wiedergabe, La Forme Lente, Malignant Records and Avant!. With a great feature, which you’ll enjoy – a world premiere for a Trepaneringsritualen track, which will be out on Malignant Records later this year. Dance in the flaming pyre, embrace the rites of power, thrown into barren landscapes – is your ego being annihilated, in the Shadow Rite.

Invisible Guy and Beläten constitute some of the most powerful forces coming out of Sweden as we speak. Which brings me to introduce this collaboration with Beläten to you people, so that you can enjoy some exclusive songs from forthcoming releases. But do also enjoy those other songs that have been carefully selected to be featured in this mixtape. His legacy returns to my sphere once again, as his selection empowers the slumbering soul of the awaited Autumn. You will find the tracklist down below, links to Beläten and what ever you can and will find.

Shadow Rite – A Beläten Mixtape

01. Blitzkrieg Baby — Half Pig Half Man (Beläten, Forthcoming)
02. Feuerbahn — Triumphwagen (Aufnahme+Wiedergabe)
03. Dmitry Distant — System Control (Beläten, Forthcoming)
04. Michael Idehall — Snake Messiah [Distel Remix] (Beläten, Forthcoming)
05. L’Avenir — Falling Like The Snow II (Beläten, Forthcoming)
06. Makina GirGir — Oedipus Fin (La Forme Lente)
07. Női Kabát — Make Room! Make Room! (Aufnahme+Wiedergabe)
08. Grand Mal x — Tricks Of A Trade (Beläten, Forthcoming)
09. Sebastian Melmoth — Skurwysyn (Self-released, Beläten cassette forthcoming)
10. Distel — White Soldier (Beläten, Forthcoming)
11. Veil Of Light — Light (Beläten)
12. Lebabon Hanover — Gallowdance (Aufnahme+Wiedergabe)
13. Lakes — The Oldest Place (Avant!)
14. Trepaneringsritualen — Åkallan: Mímir (Excerpt) (Malignant, Forthcoming)
15. Carrion Sunflower — Wish For Death (Beläten, Forthcoming)

Beläten is looking forward to a hectic fall with great releases from Sutekh Hexen, Nordvall/Vainio, Grand Mal x, Dmitry Distant, Blitzkrieg Baby, Johan G. Winther, Distel, L’Avenir and Sebastian Melmoth, with even more epic plans for the year of 2014 e.v.

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V/A – A Somatic Response

The Cover!

The aesthetic beauty of the front cover is absolutely astonishing. A hint of minimalism, overload of darkness and a subtle ambition. With a synthesizer brain, you can’t go insane. Also, the geometrically aligned dots with numbers make an excellent expression, as if this is a calculated (which it is) release with lots of things to offer. The ambiguity of it is perfectly fitting with the black, white and gray layering. As if you’re storming into something you haven’t seen before, revealing details of a flawless manufacturing with multidimensional influence.

Which at large can become a little bit too detailed, but it makes for the interesting contrast of the backside featuring a small Beläten symbol with roman letters contra a computerized URL. So, in case you’d wonder about it, you won’t really escape the pin-pointed detail and cleanliness of it. But I really like the multifaceted approach of keeping the cover tidy and minimalistic, but at the same time experiment with immense detail. Nothing hits the spot more than some scientist trying to squeeze some synthesizer knob, and at the same time being branded as “nr. 1“. Apparently the brains synthesizer seems to be labeled in German, making it sound even more underground. What number 3, 4 and 5 are references to seems pretty unsolvable. But the a, b and c seem to be in the geometrically correct position.

The aesthetics become a reminder of experimental electronic covers, and since this release comes in tape-shape, it makes it even better. Since the resemblance of older tape-released experimental electronica comes to mind, with grinding gear and industrial feeling. You can actually see the depicted character on the front push a button, in which the line of sight and geometrical line goes in total symbiosis with it. Like a well-oiled machinery, or a symbol of man and machine – e.g. a cyborg. Also, when opening up the folded cover, it discovers the secret passages of “E” and “F” on what seems to be disco-lights. Excellent.

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Streaming: A Somatic Response

Invisible Guy have gotten the honor to stream: A Somatic Response — A mixtape curated by Soma Sema. A 50 minute long mixtape featuring the best from the world of Beläten.

It will be available for purchase on their Bandcamp the 4th of June limited to 200 copies.

Beläten are proud to present »A Somatic Response«. A 50 minute mixtape of of cold synthetic pop, troubled industrial funk and dada rants selected by Swedish/American synth pop duo Soma Sema. The tape features exclusive songs from Blitzkrieg Baby, Television Set, Vita Noctis, Club Amour, Nimam Spregleda, Makina Girgir, Kord, Estroboscorpio, Lust For Youth, Goz Mongo Alliance, Xiu & Soma Sema.

»A Somatic Response« is the first in an ongoing, irregular series of artist curated compilations on Beläten. The twofold idea behind this series is, on the one hand, to see what inspires artists who inspire us, and on the other, to avoid becoming predictable and to challenge our own preconceptions of what constitutes great music.

Check out Beläten over here: