Tuesday, November 8, 2011

So I guess this "Alcest" they're selling is some kind of fancy perfume, huh?


But seriously, this is fucking ridiculous. And so is Alcest. This video is especially funny because it's so faithful to the spirit of their music. Thus far, the whole audiovisual project of Alcest has been an exercise in whimsical kitsch, the kind of pseudo-Romanticism that ended up giving that glorious art movement a bad name. It's the 21st-century musical equivalent of this painting.

Far be it from me, a massive fan of Slowdive and Sigur Ros, to hate on something just because it's delicate, ethereal, and brimming with tender emotion. But for these bands, there's something forceful in even their gentlest moments. Just listen to Slowdive's "Here She Comes" or Sigur Ros' "Staralfur"--the former is a sublime commingling of despair and affirmation, the latter a sugary pop song that swells outward into unguarded, naked love. In both cases, there's a real sense that something is at stake, and that there's risk, danger. Despite its overt accessibility, this is demanding music. It's not always easy to listen to this stuff casually. Of course, not all pretty songs have to induce nervous breakdowns or fits of rapture, but there's gotta be that underlying power.

Alcest, on the other hand, is just plain weak. A bunch of friendly fairies riding sparkly unicorns over a field of pretty flowers. An undifferentiated blur of cooing, mewling vocals over harmonically lifeless guitar work. In most of their songs I've heard, every part is virtually interchangeable with every other part. This lack of formal clarity is a big part of why Alcest is such limp, namby-pamby bullshit. But it's probably just as much a conscious aesthetic choice as a songwriting problem, Neige's (sadly misguided) idea of what it means to be transported by spiritual ecstasy. Like Wolves In The Throne Room, Alcest is all about hitting us over the head with hack emotional cues, the mundane signposts for "moving" and "special" and "beautiful." You hear it in the music, and you see it in the video. Alcest isn't so much a return to Romantic aesthetics as a bungled pastiche of Romanticism 101. It's not magical, it's pedestrian.

Go ahead and make sensitive, understated music. Just don't be such a fucking pussy about it.

16 comments:

  1. Not here to add anything to the Alcest discussion (not a fan myself), but I must say, that is the best use of the phrase "namby-pamby" since that Geico commercial with R. Lee Ermey first aired.

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  2. at least the guy in the painting has a beard

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  3. @Anon: Yeah... And on that note, I didn't realize they had so much hair gel in fairyland!

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  4. Textbook example of a band that sounds good on paper with really dubious execution in almost all cases. For me, the exception is the second song of the most recent full length. Jusssst tasteful enough, though still a little bloated.

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  5. @pavel that's fairy jizz, not hairgel

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  6. I don't mind the music as much as I mind the people who eat this shit up.

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  7. I saw this on youtube, it made me think of you.

    Top Comments
    Every time I listen to this song I imagine a young child going to sleep and then waking up in a dark lake. Then a siren comes out of the water and takes him deep into a surreal world of inmense sorrow yet great beauty.

    so beautiful, so sad, so mellow, so perfect.

    This song is poetry made sound

    IamTheScorchedEarth 3 months ago 27
    I want to die listening to Alcest and Wolves in the throne room

    Dick3ClarkAss 1 month ago 19

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  8. @Anon: Haaaah, nice! I actually saw those too. So cringe-worthy.

    I was really tempted, despite my strict policy of not commenting on Youtube videos, to reply to the second one: "Many people who actually listen to black metal would be happy to help you with that."

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  9. I would say that THIS is the ultimate example of metal jumping the shark, but Alcest isn't even metal to begin with.

    God damn this is gay.

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  10. Comparing Alcest to Slowdive or SR is like comparing Froot Loops to Frosted Flakes. Denying shoe-gaze tendencies mak this clown an automatic cocktosser.

    "Darkness is not fun." - Neige

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  11. @Ido: I was listening to Ildjarn last night!

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  12. ah, i'm new in metal, and when the first time i explore it, i stumble upon Alcest and Krallice review in metalstorm.net they said both are good.

    unfortunately i think them as bullshit(makes me think that i'm the one who stupid). and fortunately i found trialbyordeal. deal. yes. thank you for the post hammering on this crap hahaha.

    sorry for my stupid english.

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  13. One part of that video looked like something out of one of those Twilight movies, which makes sense. I mean, it's fucking Alcest, you know?

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  14. @sasmito: this is all you need to know- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_gf2iqscFM

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