Waking Season: Both mine and Caspian’s

The last year has been one erratic journey for me, musically, of course. Too much or too little of new music, it has always prevented me from actually penning down my interpretation of the music I heard. Caspian’s Waking Season has given me the perfect opportunity to sit back and contemplate, think and write about this album.

I came across this band while surfing through facts about the Caspian Sea. A happenstance, that I probably have been waiting for a really long time. An instrumental undertaking that projects its music in its most basal form, simple structures intertwined within each other, making layers resulting in a rich soundscape.

 

caspian

This album paints a canvas of dull blue beats in the background with bits yellowing highs and reds and blacks of habitué strumming. “Porcellous” with its brooding power and “Akiko” in all her peace together with “Gone in Bloom and Bough” painting a scenic soundscape. This album adheres to the band’s stubbornness on not restructuring on their older songs (which seems like a tough on task in any genre but progressive) and yet I wonder how awful would it be if they did? The band has used a plethora of sounds, of things crashing and smashing, booming drum lines, enigmatic keyboard arrangements and bluesy guitar lines with orchestral vocal “aaahhhh”s. Well placed toned guitars and programmed voices makes this a good production.

Waking Season consists of ten songs which play for roughly an hour in one sitting. This being a dynamic production has its moments where it reminds one of ambles on some moonlit beach. It’s this confusion that is its vice. The songwriting feels rushed seeing how songs become really loud at times (“Halls of Summer”), places where I would much rather have preferred a low melody. But then maybe that’s where the band wanted to create out of the post-rock-cliché bubble. It caters well enough to person already aware of this genre but as far as it being labeled the best post-rock album of last year, it certainly is not. It sounds very much like something I would have expected out of Caspian and hence I was not blown away.

On a scale of 10, a 7 seems appropriate.

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Kingpin Album of the Conceptual Genre, Kalisia’s Cybion

Most recently I came across this album, an album with such epic and stupendous soundscapes that I could barely catch my breath, my heart racing at the very first track. Not something I was expecting in a first listen from a French band, all this whilst sitting in the calm of the Delhi Metro. All of a sudden the passing lamps in the subway seemed to pass by in sync with the drum beats; you know how these things happen.

Kalisia is a French band that took 8 years to complete this album. The band consists of Brett Caldas-Lima (guitar + vox), Laurent Pouget (Keys), Thibaut Gerad (Bass, and an awesome one at that!)Bruno Michel (guitar) and Elodie Buchonnet ( vocals, flute, saxophone, some talent huh?). Cybion is a concept album revolving around the story of a Universe way ahead in the future with men in search of eternity and living far away from their home planet. The first idea that popped to my head when I read a gist somewhere was this naïve notion of star trek nerd-like fantasy. How wrong could I be? Brett Caldas-Lima undertook the monumental task of actually inventing a language takings tit bits from English, French, Sanskrit, Latin and even our beloved Quenya. I was stumped when I learnt of this. It shows the amount of detailing and intricacy displayed in the album.

About the tracks themselves, I have a version where the album consists of four tracks:

  • Revelation
  • Elevation
  • Regression
  • Extinction

I believe these to be an amalgamation of some 20 tracks originally released on the discs and vinyl. This is a 1 hour 10 minutes fest of continuous sci-fi epos. The music shift gears from one genre to another so many times one gets lost in this web of never ending orchestral symphonies and weaved-in blast beats, heavy riffs, pinches of jazz, deep bass of the electro-trance sounds, the whole lot. Vocals also vary from deep guttarls to clean high female vox associated with gothic music.

A special credit is deserved for the person handling the keyboard. The entire album gets its end-of-the-world urgency from the various do’s of the keyboard.

The range of genre’s displayed is truly a trip down memory lane, when hearing the album in leisure and in no pressure from having to critique it. One goes from song to song, note to note, and realises the sound and recognizes it to be their favourites from an era long. It is quite an experience.

The overall doom-like atmosphere that is prevalent in the album is reminiscent of an earlier Dimmu Borgir or Septic Flesh. But here and there you get riffage styles matching those of Megadeth, Opeth, Lacuna Coil, Riverside; the entire spectrum of metal in other words.

This is obviously due to the number of guest artists in this album. Angela Gossow, Paul Masvidal, Arjen Lucassen, Tom Mclean, Andy Sneap (producer), etc have all come together and contributed to what I think redefines conceptual or experimental albums. One of the best contributions to my collection, I am grateful to Kalisia.

If I could compare this with The Quantum Hack Code, I think our Indian counterpart needs to realise the competition. Amogh Symphony still has some way to go before they’d come near these French metallers.

As for cons, this album can get a tad bit too epic. There is a certain sense of relief when I pull my headphones out. They should’ve written some light music to give ear drums some peace. Quite a small issue but you’ll realise what I’m talking about once you hear this out. And the other that, since these guys came out with an album of these proportions it seems rightly a fool’s hope to expect anything just as dramatic and masterful as Cybion soon, if at all ever.

Here’s an interview that could inform you more about the band: Interview at Metalstorm. Cheers!

For sheer epical music an 9/10.

Autre Temps – Alcest

Alcest has always been the band to whom I turn when in search of beauty and tranquillity whilst in midst of utter chaos and havoc of the populace. This band has progressively graduated to being of the depressive shoegaze genre with all their music having this ethereal element in them. The new single out “Autre Temps” will not disappoint those of you who search for this very oblivion that I lust for.

The new single is from their third record, due to be released on the 6th of January by Prophecy Productions. “Autre Temps” plays on and on, gets under your skin, seeps deep inside. Neige has done a brilliant work of mixing vocals and instruments. His talent and influence is so easily reflected in the song itself. The sublime beat and the sad lyrics makes one wholly aware of one’s self and yet remotely distant from anything real. For those who get it :

Une prière lointaine que porte le vent du soir

Anime les feuilles dans leur danse alanguie.

C’est le chant des vieux arbres entonné pour toi,

Pour ces bois obscurs maintenant endormis.

Sans nous attendre tant de saisons ont passé;

Les feuilles dorées s’en allant mourir à terre

Renaîtront un jour sous un ciel radieux,

Mais notre monde érodé restera le même

Et demain toi et moi serons partis.

Simplistic, it lulls around the back of your head like pleasant memory just out of grasp. Surreal.

I could not be more anxious to receive my dose of Alcest. A good promo!