AN NCS DOUBLE PREMIERE: LES CHANTS DU HASARD AND MIDNIGHT ODYSSEY
Meaning no disrespect to all the other labels whose music we’ve become attached to over the years, it must nevertheless be said that the releases of I, Voidhanger Records are like no others. They are incredibly distinctive, often strangely so, and unpredictable in a way that makes each new announcement exciting. Part of this is the result of the richly idiosyncratic yet incisively perceptive tastes of the label’s owner, and part of it is undoubtedly the gravitation in his direction of musical creators who definitely march to the beats of their own drummers and whose creations often expand the mind in unexpected directions.
We are fortunate to present today two premieres that abundantly illustrate the truth of these observations. One comes from the new album by the French band Les Chants du Hasard, and the other from the new album by the Australian band Midnight Odyssey. Both of these are one-man projects whose releases continue to move from one precipice to the next, way up in rarefied air. Both will be released by I, Voidhanger on November 1st.
LES CHANTS DU HASARD: “CHANT VI – LA COURSE”
I became utterly enthralled by Livre Second before ever hearing a note. Simply reading the lyrical narratives of the nine Chants included in the album, each of which is something like a mythic short story or a “fairy tale”, captured me. The stories are mysterious, frightening, haunting, metaphorical, eloquent, and a bit like ghost hands that grasp and won’t let go.
The words make you think. You want to read them multiple times despite the chills they cause, gaining pleasure from the language but searching for meaning. The narratives seem to be connected, but it’s not a straight path. The connections might be only in the creator’s mind. They require further study.
I had some inkling about what the sounds would be like after I finished reading (and re-reading) all the words, but only because I had been a fan of Le Chants du Hasard‘s debut album, Tome I. Yet the music still left me astonished.
I am a poor un-lettered scribe when it comes to describing, or even fully appreciating, music such as this. I’m not completely ignorant of classical symphonies (one parent performed in an orchestra when I was a child, and the music suffused our home), but I’m not a student by any means. I’ll probably just embarrass myself by what comes next. But I’m human, and can feel the force of emotionally powerful music, and so I’m not completely at sea.
But actually, before I attempt to express how this track sounds and makes me feel, I’ll share the lyrical story that goes with it. The composition is “Chant VI – La Course“, which means “the rush”, and the translated words are these (stripped of what comes before them in the first five Chants, and what comes after them in the last three):
“Here I am, running as if I wanted to swallow the universe. Everything and everyone made place before the silent roar of my now winged legs. My eyes cried from the bites of cold
And still at every step, it was a part of me that went away, annoyed by this too great strain, not able to go further
When the last bone was gone, it’s a skeleton that I saw going away, joining the shadows I passed by on the road. My flabby envelop was still running as fast as possible
“Which one of the two is it, who wrote these lines?”
The music is grand and bombastic, on a scale that perhaps only symphonic music can achieve. Momentous brass and pounding timpani, blaring horns and frenzied strings, an extravagant voice — extravagant in its scorching, splintered-glass intensity — all these ingredients combine in a way that’s fierce and daunting. Writhing, whirling melodies, sky-spearing tones, and what sound like soaring choral voices (as well as horrid roars) combine in the sounds of tumult on a grand scale, crescendoing in a mixture of tension and madness, and then cascading down in interludes of circumspection and internal strife.
The music begins to spin upward again in a circling, sky-bound waltz of fear and weeping… is that perhaps an accordion in the mix, the tones of peasantry intermingling with the rising blast of imperial horns, martial drums, and tyrannical howls? And then something like the roaring tones of tuba and bassoon resound once more in a semblance of unavoidable calamity. The experience is breathtaking.
There’s another piece from this album that was released before the one we bring you today — “Chant III – Thelxiope“. I’ve included that stream below. You must listen to that one, too. I want to share its translated words first:
“Once upon a time, there was a girl, who stood troubled next to the lake, switched place with her reflection.
Finally freed, he traveled free through the world, and the girl, now a prisoner of the lake, became a mute entity, appearing only thanks to the sun.
“I saw her, with long hair, a fixed look and wanted to touch her, to caress her before the night took her away.
But when my hand grew closer, wrinkles appeared on her face, troubled as they were by the wind. Her beauty came back when the wind dropped but in my mind is still this picture that I only saw for a second
“Which one is her true face?”
Livre Second will be released by I, Voidhanger on November 1st. It is the work of Hazard, who created the music and performed the vocals (accompanied by the voice of Vaerohn (Pensées Nocturnes) on Chant sur Le Voleur d’Yeux. The wonderful artwork (at the top of this post) was created by Jeff Grimal, who also rendered the art for the band’s first album.
LES CHANTS DU HASARD:
MIDNIGHT ODYSSEY: “A STORM BEFORE A FIERY DAWN”
Dis Pater returns. Four years after Shards Of Silver Fade, this Australian musician resumes his Midnight Odyssey with a new album, which is the first installment in a new three-part chapter for his creations. The title, Biolume Part 1 – In Tartarean Chains, refers to an interesting conceptual metaphor. As Dis Pater explains:
“When coming up with the ideas for Biolume, I was thinking of how the relationship of light and darkness are tied together. In the darkest caves, the deepest parts of the ocean, there are lights which are produced by organisms, with no need for the sun. Darkness is seen as a place of banishment, you are expelled from the light. To survive you have to create your own light, which no matter how faint, enables you to see enough of what you need.”
It’s a big album — almost 72 minutes long, and the new track we’re presenting below, which appears fourth in the running order, is also a substantial one. In commenting about the album, Dis Pater has also remarked: “There’s a level of spite in this album that I don’t feel I’ve properly expressed before. This is the music I’m singing and performing not as an entertainer, but as a messenger of death, as a temporary vessel with whom the universe channels its most darkest and hidden truths.”
Bear that last quote in mind as you listen to the grand yet horrifying organ chords and frenzied twittering tones that rise like dragon-winged terrors above the tumultuous drumming and barbarously harsh vocals in “A Storm Before Fiery Dawn“. The music is powerful and blood-curdling, majestic and deeply menacing. As it changes, it sounds like vast celestial seas rolling across sunlit skies and the twittering of bird song. The beauty in the music is glorious, but still ominous (and the heavy, ominous shadows in the music come through in Dis Pater‘s singing, too).
The sweeping, unearthly grandeur of the music is awe-inspiring, but you can’t shed the feeling of peril that goes side-by-side with you, or the bile and belligerence that flows from the voice. There are more moments to come when the aura of astral mysteries envelops the senses. Jolting rhythms and mad, whirling melodies animate the music as well, but through all the changes the melodic foundations of the song are unshaken, and seep into the mind like a golden ichor.
“Hidden In Tartarus” is the new album’s opening track, and we’ve included that one below, along with this new one. It also creates a juxtaposition of light and darkness, through mystical and mesmerizing symphonic swells and oscillations of searing sound, coupled with enormous, stately marches and foreboding surges of typhoon-like, yet magisterial, power. Similarly, Dis Pater switches between soaring choral vocals and ravaging, bestial snarls. Weird, wondrous, and wild, the song is a spell-binder but also one that can put your heart in your throat. It’s fully capable of pinning listeners in place from beginning to end.
I, Voidhanger Records will release this album on November 1st. The wonderful cover art was made by Elijah Tamu (Ikonostasis).