Everyone who knows Alcest will have at some point known about the brief albeit beautiful 2009 split with French post-rock/shoegaze act Les Discrets. Eloquent and frequently mesmerizing in a good way, it was both a subtle introduction to the best of both worlds: That is the calm, enchanting world of Les Discrets and the more ethereal albeit still (at this point) black metal-riddled sound of Alcest. It was a balance of two unique styles which invited a greater fan-base for both bands from that point onwards. Les Discrets however, haven’t shared the same reputable nature as their cohorts, and have thus remained in the background of a musical world which is now becoming slightly stagnant because of a pure focus on style over substance.
This said, latest album Prédateurs seems far removed from anything Les Discrets had put out before, if only because of the shift in styles a la Ulver. At little over forty minutes long, Prédateurs doesn’t exactly test your patience, but it provides musicianship which, if produced on an album lasting twenty or thirty minutes longer, would be deemed monotonous. Thankfully, the musicianship and songwriting on this album means that immediacy and strong resonance with the listener’s emotions are at the very forefront.
After the eeriness of the intro, first song proper “Virée Nocturne” develops an almost outlandish version of ambient, electronica-influenced post-rock. What this has in abundance is the sort of emotional impact that Les Discrets have always explored from the get-go: feelings of isolation, loneliness and despair amongst others. Similar themes are developed amidst a more intense musical background on “Les Amis de Minuit” and “Les Jours dor”, where the band collectively decide to turn otherwise lighthearted aspects of musicianship into creepier, more disturbing soundscapes. However, what never seems to change is that ethereal, somewhat angelic vocal delivery which, mostly doubled up and processed beyond the patience of most listeners, really seems to overstep the mark. It’s not particularly frustrating, but with little variation in the delivery it often means that the musical performance is slightly hampered in the process. That said, the vocal flaws can never take away from how progressive and streamlined songs such as “Vanishing Beauties” end up being, this particular cut featuring one of the strongest ambient and electronica influences the band have been known to use. This consistent feeling of the darker moods in human life is extended until the bitter end, when closer “Paris 7h34” features the soundtrack to someone running away from all of their fears. They never quite get there, and the abrupt final minute of intense menace in this closer puts stunning music to nightmarish imagery.
Prédateurs is something of an evolutionary step in Les Discrets career, a band that are essentially still finding their own niche. Alongside the likes of Ulver, Les Discrets are still very much an experimental group at heart, but thanks to the consistency Prédateurs that presents, the band never seem like they’re giving up or indeed falling into stagnation. On the contrary, they are just getting started.
Released: 21st April, 2017
- Virée Nocturne
- Les Amis de Minuit
- Vanishing Beauties
- Fleur des Murailles
- Le Reproche
- Les Jours Dor
- Rue Octavio Mey
- The Scent of Spring Moonraker
- Paris 7h34