This band was originally formed in 2001 by Agathe M. as a solo project in France. She was later joined by Gaelle D. in fall of 2003 and together they started to create their style of dark, epic melancholy music. The band released their first demo together in 2004 and based on the positive response started recording their debut full-length album Hilvern. The popular heavenly voice label Prikosnovenie picked them up and released the album in 2006. Not stopping or even hesitating for that matter they were promptly in the studio again recording their sophomore work Chants d'Automne which builds and refines their beautiful music and style. 2009 saw the release of Llydaw and 2011, the new masterpiece Wanderings.
This project is another great addition to a family of ethereal, ambient, medieval music similar to their influences Dark Sanctuary, Arcana, Dargaard and others. The music is spellbinding combining violin, choirs, various synthesized orchestral arrangements and mesmerizing vocals. Fans of related bands will definitely want to follow the work from these talented artists.
Currently this duo does not play live, but we can always hope that they'll put together a live performance so that fans will be able to see them in person. For now we will just have to live with and enjoy the studio work that they release. Fans can enjoy selections of this and related artists on the Gothic Paradise Ethereal show.
Wanderings - Review
It has been several years since our last review of this project and it's a pleasure to have their latest work. This duo, united with Prikosnovenie have presented us with a beautifully packaged album. Beyond the music, it comes in a cool DVD-sized digipack case with a beautiful 20-page booklet containing lyrics, artwork and photos. And the captivating beauty of these things are captured perfectly on the nine excellent tracks on the album.
From start to finish this album is captivating as the siren-like vocals lure the listener in and hold you entranced through the spellbinding music and duration of the album. After a short, slowly building intro that crescendos to bombastic proportions it tapers off and leads us into my favorite piece and highlight of the album, the title track "Wanderings". With english lyrics it allows me to understand a bit better the meaning behind the music and words, but the highlight is more than the dreamy vocals and somber background compositions, but the prominent violin really makes this piece and others on this album really stand out. We're also presented with a bit of guitar and heavy percussion over the layers piano, violin, synthesized strings and so on for a full and hauntingly beautiful masterpiece. Lasting just over eight minutes, I think I would pick up this album just for this piece, but luckily we have more to enjoy on this disc as well.
As mentioned above, the prominent violin and other subtle features help this album to stand out from just the droning layers of synthesized orchestras and dreamy, angelic vocals. "Aerial" follows on the heals of this masterpiece and you would think that in the shadow of that great composition, anything else would pale beside it, but each track can still hold its own like this one. The harp on "The Summit of the Tree" provides a slight change from the status quo, again coupled with dreamy vocals tempt the listener "come hither, come hither, come hither". In a different way "Lying on the Grey Foam" stands out with the moving percussion getting the blood flowing as the listener is prompted to move to the more pronounced rhythm. On top of the percussion, the violin once again stands out but coupled with that we have the addition of a strong brass section to finalize it all as it builds to a strong crescendo for a bold finish.
The music from this band could always be envisioned to appear on a soundtrack of an epic movie like "Lord of the Rings" or some Arthurian legend, but in no way is this more clear than with the beautiful instrumental piece "The Gaels". The violin builds slowly over layers of other orchestral instruments and then moves along swiftly like a leaf driven before a strong window, flitting, flying and floating over the swift currents of air. The strong rhythm is accented with percussion as it builds to a climax and then slowly starts to fade, crowned with beautiful classic piano. Next to this festive piece "In My Dreary Thoughts" is appropriately named as the somber, darker moods stand out through the heavy, low piano and soft, dreamy vocals. With the violin taking the lead once again, the album starts to wind down on "Quiet They Are Now" and leaving us with the final piece "Tristesse". Together these pieces form a pair of somber tracks, slowly building and fading, creating a perfect ending to this album.
There you have it, a masterpiece indeed. Fans of the darker, heavier orchestral music will love this album whether it's the dreamy vocals, the violin or the epic soundtrack style, there's definitely something to enjoy. They manage to break out of the monotony somewhat with the various accents to each track whether it's violin, piano, harp, percussion or even subtle, yet heavy guitar. Enjoy!
Chants d'Automne - Review
I was so pleased to receive word of a new album from this duo so soon after their debut work. And like their first album they present us with another set of powerful and spellbinding tracks. In many ways I could just refer the reader to the review of Hilvern and say, "more of the great spellbinding works we love from this group", but that's not entirely true. Though there are many similarities and many of the tracks blend together and sound so much alike, there are distinctly new and mesmerizing pieces to be heard.
This album invites the listener into the duo's world, focusing mainly on the Broceliande forest which is a beautiful and mystical place. The "autumn songs" builds on this enchanted feeling and spirit of beauty and the listener is drawn in, lured into a fairyworld as mysterious and captivating as possibly imagined. From the opening strings of "Invitation", the hypnotic luring begins and listener becomes entranced. The first "autumn song" begins after this invitation into the forest and the powerful synthesized orchestra comes to life and the beautiful vocals call the listener into the "lost lands (Terres Perdues)" of the forest.
Oh how the imagination springs to life with this music and the imagery of fantasy worlds of Tolkien and others long passed. For those that are more fluent in understanding french than I, this album will be even more enjoyable as the imagery surpasses the universal language of music, but allows the listener to understand even more the depth of emotion and feelings of the artists and the magical world they create. Although, suffice it to say, that just through the music and enchanting vocals, I am pleased to listen and hear the majesty and fantasy world embodied therein.
Once again I commend the artists for their work so far and encourage them to continue with their creative energies, hopefully to create more unique and distinct textures. Time will tell what they will have to offer and hopefully we'll have a chance to see them play live as well.
Hilvern - Review
I was originally introduced to this group through a Myspace link and listening to samples placed their. I was immediately enthralled and knew that I had to have this album and that I would be following the career of this duo closely. Now with this album in my player all of the beauty and majesty of their compositions come to life so vividly through the mixture of haunting vocals and the medieval and neo-classical percussion and orchestration. With ten astounding tracks this is an album that is worth searching out and finding for any fan's collection.
The music, track titles and lyrics create a thematic approach to the album and for those that understand a bit of french it all becomes more meaningful. For most, "Hilvern" becomes an enchanted world of mystery and fantasy that is created through this album and just by listening to the music you are taken away to this beautiful place to fully experience all it has to offer. "Une nuit en Hilvern" becomes the passageway to and entrance to this world as the captivating vocals float effortlessly on the waves of sculptured sounds. As the track moves on the lyrics fade to angelic vocals without words, yet still remain just as entrancing as any words might do. This pattern emerges and continues on throughout the album creating one long homogenous work that is actually quite difficult to break down or even tell one piece apart from the other, not in a monotonous or repetative fashion, but as a nice transitional piece. With this in mind it is hard to even pick a favorite track as they all contain similar elements and are equally powerful and hauntingly beautiful at the same time.
Even with the above statement about the homogenous work, certain elements of each piece still reach out and grab the listener depending on individual styles and taste. The beautiful piano and vocals throughout "Rencontre avec la Dame" are especially haunting as they are layered over and through the additional violin and electronics. Some pieces are simple without any lyrics yet still maintain the mesmerizing vocals such as "La clairiere des fees'. On others the compositions are more complex and the percussion is powerful such as with "Une ancienne legende" or the introductory piece "Une nuit en Hilvern". However, the piano, violin and various underlying synths create the core of this album and each piece rides the compositions beautifully.
The album continues on in much the same way, each track lending it's beauty whether it be the powerful "Les hommes ne se rappellent plus mon nom" or the simpler "Barenton". There aren't any pieces that stand out among the others which isn't a bad thing with an album where every track is about as perfect as can be. The powerful violin on "Eveil et desespoir" sets the stage for the finale "L'abandonnee" as the album begins to wrap up. And when it's all over you just wish for a few more pieces, or maybe decide to just repeat it all over again, and you wouldn't even get tired of it. This is a great album... don't miss it!