I’m on my third or fourth listen of Écailles de lune by Alcest. It’s as if a lush forest has grown out of the ashes of black metal.


Now that I’ve seen Deafheaven live I feel like I can focus on Alcest. Écailles de lune is better than I realized. I remember listening to it the first time. I played it while doing other things around the office, only to have to sit down half way through the second part of the title track. I realized I was a fool for not paying attention to it. I texted the friend who recommended them: what kind of magic is this?


It’s one thing for me to want to listen to an album again. It’s another for me to want to do so as soon as it has finished. Each of the last few times I’ve played it I restart from the beginning. There’s something gorgeous about it, something that pulls you back, making you want to experience it all over again, as you promise yourself you’ll pay even more attention this time.


I remember Heidegger saying something brilliant about the danger of labels, along the lines of the fact that they conceal as much as we assume they reveal. As with many things, I wish I had written it down in something I still had (was it on paper?), for the quote was much better than my memory of it. Nevertheless, this is a lesson I need to learn. I was thinking about how ridiculous black metal fans are in so many ways, not the least of which is their hyper-vigilance against bands being labled black metal against their wishes. (The necessary and sufficient condition seems to be Darkthrone. Of course, not really Darkthrone, just their first three albums, for Fenriz himself had to later defend their own legitimacy in the eyes of such fans.) The fact that Alcest’s first album was proclaimed not black metal says something telling about us, not the artist: this is what I like, this is my label for it; I do not like you, therefore you cannot use my label. And we either forget or never stop to consider that the bands themselves are rarely the ones who care about this. The best ones simply create.

If my understanding is correct, Alcest, Spirit Adrift and Panopticon started as solo projects in which the artist played each instrument. And in each case the band became better when it allowed other musicians in.


I’m listening to Les voyages de l’âme. There is so much to explore.


I wonder if fans were panicking when Shelter came out? We have such a hard time seeing a work as part of a larger whole–the next steps of which, let alone the end–the artists themselves don’t know. The public side of an artist is never the full one. There is so much that they write that will never, short of a discovery like that of Emily Dickinson’s trunk of hand-written fascicles, see the light of day. Yet we limit them to the tiny parts we (think we) know.


I’m on my fourth listen of Kodama. Until now the lens through which I judged them was Écailles de lune. With Kodama they have taken my lens, smashed it, and constructed a masterpiece out of its shards.


And now Kodama has helped me understand Les voyages de l’âme. The latter hangs together as a whole in a way that Écailles de lune does not. As such it also paves the way for Shelter: he understands that telling a story is more important than obeying a genre.


There is a great deal of stupidity here, especially that insipid and wrong bit about the lens. I did not enjoy rereading this. However, I came back to Écailles de lune today and it’s as beautiful as I remember. When will I learn to stop thinking in terms of greater and lesser?


cf. ~/Documents/Katatonia for the key to Shelter. This is especially strange given that it has to do with Opeth. But perhaps not.

Now I also understand the fundamental importance of Écailles de lune: it is an epitome of the whole.


The new album just came out. I’ve restarted the first track three times now before letting it get to the second. This is greater than I hoped for. I am already sad that there are only six tracks.

This is how I will listen then. I will go back to the beginning each time I feel I must. It will be interesting to see how long it will take for me to reach the last second of the last track.

I have yet to make it past Sapphire.


31 October 2019

I have listened to the album many times now. For a few days I wrestled with actually leaving the office as it was playing to do things in other rooms. I still find myself playing it at least three times a night.

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