Marcelo’s mother died in dramatic circumstances when he was six. Whilst he had always felt different as he did not have a mother who would pick him up from school and so on, what he truly missed was her physicality: her warm skin, her laughter and the tender way she looked at him. The worst thing about losing his mother was that she had gone – forever. Every human mourns the loss of the Mother-Creator from the moment we leave the womb.
Herbst is obviously aware of what Neige has come to represent in such a short stretch of time: rarely a band has embodied the absolute essence of an individual’s transcendental dream as Alcest does. So it is kind of natural that wherever the Parisian/Paradisiacal boy lays his unmistakable vocal chords, the Dream will magically appear, shimmering like dew-drops from the heavens. Just before he began to give physical form, through constant touring, to his mystical presence in the collective consciousness of dreamers/ searchers from all continents, Neige performed once again the vocal parts in Lantlôs’ third album recorded over a year ago.
The album title chosen by Herbst immediately puts the work into a precise context. Agape, a word of ancient Greek origin, though it does not have any specific religious connotations, represents divine, unconditional, self-sacrificing, volitional, and thoughtful love, and it is precisely from the lyrics that this review shall begin to unfold.
“Intrauterin”. Lacerating the soft tissues of the female essence, violating the very meaning of my own gender’s existence, this stunning elegy shakes me to the core by proclaiming the individual’s own right to non-birth. And I, – who consciously elected to take my own revenge on nature by denying life the power to ever take root inside me – I live this song both as the rebellious Goddess who laughs in the face of the blind natural cycles because she can, but also as the Child who has been brought into life itself. A child who once told her own mother, the person she loves more than anything and anyone in the world, that it would have not mattered if she had never created her. A child who looks at her beloved creator and sees the ravaging of time slowly destroying her: the once wonderful, giving body, becoming frailer; the soft flesh that was once solace and shelter, decaying. “Intrauterin” is, in all its lacerating, selfish brutality, a magnificent emotional monument to the deepest relationship humans will experience in their life, perhaps the only one destined to last forever in our subconscious mind.
After such a mind-blowing opening, does the album keep up its conceptual tension? Absolutely. “Bliss” will speak to all the Dreamers out there who feel battered by the loneliness of their quest. A quest that mankind has shared since its beginnings, and yet it feels so personal, so in the now and so all-consuming. “Bloody Lips & Paper Skin” touches on the abhorrent theme of the frailty of beauty and youth. “Eribo – I collect the Stars”, closing up from where it started, is a stirring bitter-sweet fable, a metaphor of man’s desperate desire to communicate with a creator. Because once we are expelled from the womb, our goddess-mother becomes too human so we seek a higher creator, a bigger reason for being, and safer, more durable haven to look forward to. Agape’s lyrics, which I sincerely hope are included in the artwork, are crystalline poems of a direct and universal beauty, and it is a real treat that the instrument which articulates them is the agonizing voice of Neige. At the same time, I am sure that his absence from the imminent live incarnation of Lantlôs will not diminish the emotional impact these artists created in the intimacy of a studio.
By introducing the context before the musical content, I wished to encourage the reader to approach Agape armed with even more expectancy because the music which sets the lyrical content alive is also outstanding. Each of the five pieces on offer unfolds into the next one: like tassels from a puzzle representing the human soul, they are conceived as part of a whole and yet each of them makes a mesmerizing, pulsating entity within itself. Agape (let us not forget Herbst’s own painting is gracing once again the cover) is one of those rare works which become living creatures in their own right, leaving behind an overwhelming feeling of disconcertment and longing, the same one you experience when, upon meeting a stranger, you sense that you must have already met in another life.
The utterly contemporary, individual approach towards classic musical styles (jazz and rock) being reinterpreted and molded into something unique within what I like to call a spiritual or astral black metal frame, is Lantlôs’ most distinguishing characteristic, and this album reinforces and establishes this talent. The vastness of the emotions is rendered by a palette that, to set comparisons with .neon, deepened both the harsh and the ethereal range of expressiveness and intensity.
The way “Intrauterin” introduces us sonically to the mightily frightening moments when the fetus’ consciousness ignites, is absolutely breathtaking: the most sinister, arcane depths of industrial doom are called forth to express a violent plunging into earthly life from a mysterious metaphysical plane. The child’s soul is kidnapped from its peaceful abode, but soon calmness is restored within the protective cocoon of the mother’s body, and a tender lullaby will lead to a memorable post-rock moment. The fetus’ desperate existential screams begging the mother-goddess not to let its safe parasite life within her to come to an end, represents possibly the biggest defining moment of a future person’s life, a subconscious scar that will never truly heal. The track’s bleak, colossal doomy frame stops dead and plunges into the breathless black metal urgency of “Bliss”, another brimming musical phenomenon where delicate jazz looseness builds up from a dirty, minimalistic interlude of tribal industrial darkness, exploring the most secret inner folds of transcendentalism. Another majestic build-up introduces “Bloody Lips and Paper Skin”, a gorgeous bass-led, sensorially intricate, enchanting tapestry which unhinges the physicality of the present, transporting the concept of transient beauty into an elegant time-frame which has the wonderful fragrance of carnal/spiritual Italian High Middle Ages times, an era when platonic beauty and abject filth lived in closer proximity. The slow jazzy instrumental “You feel like Memories” seems to unravel the theme of the passage of time of the previous track, setting up for the grand finale. Like with .neon, Herbst brings the album to conclusion with an epic tale. Built along a variation of beautiful slowed-down tempos, musically “Eribo – I collect the Stars” bridges black metal with the fuzzy-guitar/leading distorted bass axiom of experimental early 80s American indie bands like Butthole Surfers, stretching the fabric of Lantlos’ own style to create a heroic yet warm psychedelic aura that flood the listener’s soul. Unsurprisingly so, as it is the universal human soul that works of art like this give a voice to.
Release: 28 October 2011
Label: Lupus Lounge
Avantgenre: Spiritual Avant-Garde Black Metal
Official site: None
Review online since: 28.09.2011 / 18:24:58
3. Bloody Lips And Paper Skin
4. You Feel Like Memories
5. Eribo – I Collect The Stars