I first stumbled upon Sylvaine’s album “Wistful” through Alcest’s Facebook page. Neige mentioned that he contributed some drums to this album. This peaked my interest since Alcest is one of my all time favorite bands. As soon as I heard one of the songs off the album I was slowly getting more and more excited to hear what the full album will be like. Then months later I had an aha moment and looked for Sylvaine’s BandCamp page to see if the album is now out. To my surprise it was and I immediately bought the album and downloaded it. I can say it was one of the best decisions I had made for only $10 bucks. This is an amazing album full of warmth, melancholy and introspection.
When the first sorrowfully soft voices started to come out of the mist for the first song “Delusions” I felt like I was transported back to the time of Odysseus. Though I didn’t want to block my ears with wax, I wanted to hear the sirens sing over the rocks and waves of the ocean. The voice of Sylvaine did not foretell my doom, it reintroduced memories of the past and a nostalgia I haven’t felt since hearing Alcest’s “Ecailles de Lune” all those years ago. I knew as those sweeping vocals came out of the ether that I was going to be gifted with another brilliant album coming from the newly developed blackgaze genre. When the warm guitar tones started to drift in, the wall of sound was something I could not avoid. I could feel the emotion in every guitar riff and drum beat and in the end I was transported to the hidden world of Sylvaine.
I find myself meandering down misty forest paths and babbling brooks of crystal clear water. I come to a clearing and see a shade in a copse of trees. The shade has a guitar and starts playing an eerily cold riff that could have come from the Norwegian fjords in the early 90s. It was hypnotic, cold but warm at the same time. Then as the guitars played the shade screamed in pain about being tied to the earth without a chance of redemption. This imagery is what came to mind when I heard the second song “Earthbound”. This song sounds like something out of an old Burzum record, but the rules were broken. Instead of cold, darkness and hate there is instead a feeling of sadness/loss with a chance of redemption. Sylvaine’s screams are incredibly haunting and definite homage to her Norwegian black metal peers. And it was a breath of fresh air to hear that vocal style all these years later.
As the journey continues I came across a meadow of sorts with wild flowers of varying hues of blue and purple, the breeze can be heard among the tall grass. In the distance I see a circle of monoliths and the stars are numerous and bright in the sky. I see the shade again though it is now gray not black. It starts strumming a melancholic tune in apathy. It sings about being trapped and that there is no way out. It sees the flowers and the stars with longing. It knows freedom is at hand, it just needs to get out of its head long enough to break free. The music/lyrics of both “A Ghost Trapped in Limbo” and “Saudade” paint this bleak picture but in the end you know the shade will be free of the looming, ancient stone prison.
Then all of the sudden, the shade looks above and screams for freedom and redemption. Slowly the shade rises from the ground and is floating closer to the stars above. Then with sudden clarity I find myself flying up with it. I am in the cosmos I see the billion points of light of distant galaxies. Then the shade glows brighter and brighter, like a rocket ship its guitars erupt and its screams can be heard across millennia. This is the final rallying cry of the shade, it is free of its bonds. This feeling of sudden illumination resonates in the track “In the Wake of Moments Passed By”. As the shade is flying free it drifts towards the Sun, it floats without being burnt, it sees the warm light and its life force comes back. The song “Like a Moth to a Flame” is the fitting second to last chapter of this journey.
The final chapter of this shade’s journey is to find a way back home. With lifeforce anew and perceptions changed the shade goes home. With a sense of wonderment and introspection and a new lease on life the shade is full and happy. There is a quiet cadence to its voice as it sings. There is quiet reflection in the guitar tones. And out of nowhere the warm sound of chamber music is being played on the wind, the shade turns Northward and drifts to the music. The shade comes to find that it is not alone that there are others like it. And it rests its head on the mossy ground and then becomes human, she sleeps and all that is left are the stars above. Then the song “Wistful” comes to an end and I stir awake with a new mindset, free of worry and regret…
Sylvaine BandCamp: https://sylvainemusic.bandcamp.com/