Palms is a post rock/shoegazer super group made up of Deftones singer Chino Moreno and 3 members of Isis. The first thing you’ll notice about all of the songs on their self-titled debut is that they all lack hooks and grooves to grab your attention. Instead they rely on lengthy guitar soundscapes that focuses heavily on layering shimmering clean guitar tones alongside their fuzzed out counterpart (that sometimes boarder on becoming blue noise) with Chino Moreno’s ethereal voice sitting comfortable in the middle of it all.
Unfortunately the soundscaping that Palms indulges in also happens to be the major pitfall of the album. It becomes apparent early on that the songs lack definition and given that the song lengths average out at almost 8 minutes each, there is little variety and ever fewer memorable moments. This becomes frustrating when the songs sound like they are building up to something but then nothing significant happens, resulting in some rather lengthy songs that don’t appear to have any real momentum behind them.
Sadly the album isn’t what it could have been and while Palms have a lot of style in their well-crafted ambience, they lack the substance in the song writing department that makes an album memorable and engaging. If you hear a single song from Palms then you’ve heard the rest of the album. Stronger song writing would have given it the potential to be a sonic masterpiece but the lack of variety is what holds Palms back.
Artist: Alcest Album: Souvenirs d’un autre monde Genre(s): Rock Subgenres(s): Shoegazer Released: 2007 Length: 41 Minutes Language(s): French Label(s): Prophecy Productions
01. Printemps Émeraude
02. Souvenirs d’un autre monde
03. Les Iris
04. Ciel Errant
05. Sur l’autre rive je t’attendrai
06. Tir Nan Og
Souvenirs d’un autre monde (Memories of Another World) is the debut album by French multi-instrumentalist Neige working under the name Alcest. Apart from guest singer Audrey Sylvain, Souvenirs is a 1 man project that shows Neige casting off his black metal background to experiment with the sound of Shoegazer music.
His songs follow a rigid formula, meaning that after the first couple of songs you’ll know what Alcest is all about and you can expect everything to follow on in the same vein. The core of Alcest’s sound will have you bearing witness to tidal waves of guitar distortion and Neige’s disembodied voice calling out to you as though he where a ghost. Together this gives the music a strange melancholic quality.
The simplistic percussion patters away rapidly in the background of the distortion drenched music and manages to slow itself down to compliment the softer moments that are considerably shorter. The softer moments act as interludes to relieve your ears of the oppressive pressure put on them by the distorted guitar and in doing so, Alcest almost innovates but the guitar distortion takes hold again before the interludes have a chance to take root and be explored in greater depth.
Thankfully Tir Nan Og is the exception to the formula and sees that soft interlude music being transformed into a full song. Roots are taken and Alcest reveals an entirely different side to the music that flourishes beautifully when it doesn’t have to compete with the distortion.
Souvenirs d’un autre monde is a consistent effort with some good ideas and a lot of vision but a diverse take on the song-writing would have carried Alcest a lot further.