Friday Feb 10, 2017
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Alcest was founded in the year 2000 by songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Neige (aka. Stéphane Paut) and later joined by drummer Winterhalter (Jean Deflandre) in 2009. Labeled as post metal/shoegaze or “blackgaze”, Alcest were the pioneers within this genre, crafting a unique sound based on musical opposites from their very first EP “Le Secret” (2005), and thru their full length releases “Souvenirs D'Un Autre Monde” (2007), “Écailles De Lune” (2010) and “Les Voyages De L'Ame” (2012). In 2014 their fourth album “Shelter” was released, marking the band's departure from the more metal sound, in favor of dream-pop aesthetics, surprising and somewhat challenging their fan base. In retrospective, the album opened new doors for Alcest, bringing them an audience from different horizons and a positive sense of unpredictability as musicians.
Over the years, Alcest influenced a lot of other artists and gained a significant popularity around the world, leading them to do several tours all over Europe, North America, South America, Asia and Australia.
"Kodama" (2016), the upcoming fifth album by Alcest marks the French duo's ferocious return to the epic and contrasted style of its early works while continuing the band's relentless pursuit for fresh ideas. Combining poetic elements with darker ones, that were not present in Alcest’s earlier works, “Kodama” manifests as an intense album, featuring a more organic, punchy sound and showcasing impulses from an array of different places.
Originally triggered by Hayao Miyazaki's anime film "Princess Mononoke", "Kodama" picks up on the fate of its protagonist and, at its core, deals with the sensation of not belonging; of living in between worlds, be it city and nature, the physical and spiritual one. By giving the album a cultural, stylistic and compositional narrative, Neige and Winterhalter keep "Kodama" from just being the latest improvement on the Alcest sound and instead make the album a most rare and exciting thing: a vital, relevant record from a front runner that not only upholds the band's trailblazing legacy, but actually makes you want to see where they go next.
On No One Deserves Happiness, The Body’s Chip King and Lee Buford set out to make “the grossest pop album of all time.” The album themes of despair and isolation are delivered by the unlikely pairing of the Body’s signature heaviness and 80s dance tracks. The Body can emote pain like no other band, and their ability to move between the often strict confines of the metal world and the electronic music sphere is on full display throughout No One Deserves Happiness, an album that eludes categorization. More than any of their genre-defying peers, The Body does it without softening their disparate influences towards a middle ground, but instead through a beautiful combining of extremes. No One Deserves Happiness is an album that defies definition and expectations, standing utterly alone.
Buford and King are outliers at their core, observing the world as if apart from it. They strive for music without a category. They embody many contrasts. They are open and playful as well as thoughtful and disciplined. Live, they deliver punishing volume and scale with their spare duo set up, expanding their sound through a complex set of effects on both guitar and drums. For records, they approach things entirely differently and expand their group in the studio to include Seth Manchester and Keith Souza from Machines with Magnets (their long-time studio), as well as Chrissy Wolpert of The Assembly of Light Choir. The list of instruments used on No One Deserves Happiness is an unexpected collection that includes 808 drum machine, a cello and a trombone. The band employs instruments in their unprocessed state for the simple beauty of the sound, and then in equal measure push them to their most extreme (for example, the sounds at the end of “The Fall and the Guilt” are created by a guitar and a cello). Because they create an entirely singular sound, The Body is in high demand for collaborations with artists across the musical spectrum, from The Bug to Full of Hell to The Haxan Cloak and beyond. They build albums that are as lush and dense as a rain forest and as unforgiving.
Creepers is a band from the San Francisco Bay Area that formed in 2010. Originally consisting of Shiv Mehra (Deafheaven) on guitar and vocals and Daniel Tracy (Deafheaven) on drums, the duo performed around the Bay playing their own brand of surreal psychedelic rock. Eventually, they recruited guitarist Chris Natividad (Golden Drugs, Useless Eaters) and bassist Varun Mehra to complete the lineup. Their first LP "Lush" was released on All Black Recording Company in 2014.
In 2016, Andrew Oswald (Recorded Fell Voices, Ash Borer, Black Spiritual, +more) replaced Varun Mehra on bass and Ross Peacock (Mwahaha, Clipd Beaks) was added on synths and electronics. They are currently working on a release slated for 2017.