Music

Les Discrets: Septembre et Ses Dernières Pensées

The French band explores similar territory as Alcest and Amesoeurs, but their excellent debut wastes no time in forging its own identity.


Les Discrets

Septembre et Ses Dernières Pensées

Label: Prophecy
US Release Date: 2010-05-04
UK Release Date: 2010-03-29
Artist Website
Amazon
Amazon
iTunes

For just a couple of musicians, best friends Fursy Teyssier and Stephane "Neige" Paut have created an extraordinary amount of first-rate music over the past few years. In fact, the Avignon, France natives have a creative relationship that's not unlike the extended Broken Social Scene family: they've played in bands together, first with dark metal outfit Phest, and then most notably with the post punk-inspired Amesoeurs. Teyssier has always had a hand in Neige's solo project Alcest, including co-writing several songs and playing rhythm guitar on Alcest's first European tour, and conversely, Neige will be helping out on guitar when Teyssier's own band Les Discrets starts playing shows. Most recently, with Alcest winning over many people in 2007 with the beautiful Souvenires d'un Autre Monde and Amesoeurs knocking one out of the park with their first, and last, full-length in 2008, the attention has been focused primarily on the musical talents of Neige, but with Teyssier having finally completed his own band's first album, it's time he got some well-deserved attention of his own.

Formed in the wake of Amesoeurs' break-up, with former bandmate Winterhalter chipping in on drums and Audrey Hadorn helping out on vocals, Les Discrets shares a lot in common with Phest, Alcest, and Amesoeurs, as there is a very strong post-punk influence that lingers throughout Septembre et Ses Dernières Pensées. That said, make no mistake, Les Discrets is a distinct, separate entity. While Amesoeurs melded blatant, well-executed Joy Division and Cure-inspired passages with cathartic black metal, and Alcest continues to create a slightly metallic version of the music of My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive, Teyssier and Les Discrets go for a much more robust approach. The gloomy, gothic influences from the early-1980s are still there, but this album works in much subtler ways, interweaving gorgeously bleak melodies with heavier arrangements, not unlike what Anathema and Agalloch have done in the past. Instead of conveying pastoral, innocent sentiments or moments of pure despair, there's more of a middle ground on this record that's rather dignified for a genre that normally tends to get a little bipolar when it comes to expressing emotion.

This album, loosely translated as, "September and its last thoughts", is deceptive in its simplicity. "L’Échappée" strides confidently between gothic metal and early-90s dream pop, never overplaying either side, heavy chords and gossamer-thin guitar melodies underscoring Teyssier's deliberate but surprisingly effective vocal delivery. On the other hand, "Les Feuilles de l’Olivier" explodes out of the gate with a riff pattern and double-kick percussion eerily similar to Norwegian greats Emperor, but acoustic guitar and those returning wispy, smooth melodies, tremelo picked so gently you'd swear they were e-bowed, offset the darkness with relative ease. Meanwhile, the acoustic lead guitar on the otherwise roaring "Effet de Nuit" (a track dating back to Teyssier's time in Phest) is an inspired touch, "Chanson d'Automne" is a languid seven and a half-minute mood piece, and "Sur le Quais" is a more subdued acoustic, folk-inspired track.

The template might be a touch predictable (the use of ¾ beats can get predictable), and the band hasn't quite gotten to the point where they can equal the atmospheric power of Agalloch's masterpieces The Mantle and Ashes Against the Grain, but there are moments where you sense they're very, very close. "Song For Mountains" feels impeccably arranged, starting off with a mournful acoustic intro before some '80s-inspired, choppy guitar notes usher in a wave of graceful distorted chords, the pattern repeating gracefully over the course of six minutes. "Effet de Nuit", on the other hand, is driven by Teyssier's commanding vocal delivery which bears a slight resemblance to Fields of the Nephilim or Sisters of Mercy. "Une Matinée d'Hiver" concludes the album on a heart-wrenching note, as the metal is abandoned entirely in favor of something closer to the Cocteau Twins, the fact that Teyssier and Hadorn sing exclusively in French adding a mysterious quality, at least to those who aren't exactly fluent in French. It's a sign of great things to come from Teyssier, who has emerged out from the shadow of his talented peer Neige with a lovely, very confident work of his own. C'est magnifique.

8

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

Under the lens of cultural and historical context, as well as understanding the reflective nature of popular culture, it's hard not to read this film as a cautionary tale about the limitations of isolationism.

I recently spoke to a class full of students about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Actually, I mentioned Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by prefacing that I understood the likelihood that no one had read it. Fortunately, two students had, which brought mild temporary relief. In an effort to close the gap of understanding (perhaps more a canyon or uncanny valley) I made the popular quick comparison between Plato's often cited work and the Wachowski siblings' cinema spectacle, The Matrix. What I didn't anticipate in that moment was complete and utter dissociation observable in collective wide-eyed stares. Example by comparison lost. Not a single student in a class of undergraduates had partaken of The Matrix in all its Dystopic future shock and CGI kung fu technobabble philosophy. My muted response in that moment: Whoa!

Keep reading... Show less
9

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less
Books

'The Art of Confession' Ties Together Threads of Performance

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell at St. Mark's Church in New York City, 23 February 1977

Scholar Christopher Grobe crafts a series of individually satisfying case studies, then shows the strong threads between confessional poetry, performance art, and reality television, with stops along the way.

Tracing a thread from Robert Lowell to reality TV seems like an ominous task, and it is one that Christopher Grobe tackles by laying out several intertwining threads. The history of an idea, like confession, is only linear when we want to create a sensible structure, the "one damn thing after the next" that is the standing critique of creating historical accounts. The organization Grobe employs helps sensemaking.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Alt-rock heroes the Foo Fighters deliver a three-hour blast of rock power that defies modern norms.

It's a Saturday night in Sacramento and the downtown area around the swank new Golden 1 Center is buzzing as if people are waiting for a spaceship to appear because the alt-rock heroes known as the Foo Fighters are in town. Dave Grohl and his band of merry mates have carried the torch for 20th-century rock 'n' roll here in the next millennium like few others, consistently cranking out one great guitar-driven album after another while building a cross-generational appeal that enables them to keep selling out arenas across America.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image