One of the things I love about independent artists (or at least those that cater to the spirit of independent art), is their ability to condense all the intricacies of making that art into something that speaks to the beholder personally. That is, whatever the medium, it places me right smack in the middle of the world created by that piece and envelops me so resolutely as to meld that world completely with my own. Such is the case with Septembre Et Ses Dernières Pensées, a record that, for forty-three minutes, whisks me utterly away to an exquisitely animated alternative reality teeming with shimmery atmosphere and lush melody.
The brainchild of multi-talented artist, Fursy Teyssier, Les Discrets is a relatively new shoegaze/metal project whose debut LP captures the essence of Indie rock music (the sound, as much as the movement), and lays it lovingly over a richly rewarding, heavy foundation, giving rise to an innovative, yet familiar sound that should appeal immediately and enduringly to those who appreciate quiet beauty in their heavy music. Broadly, they share space with Prophecy labelmates Alcest (with whom they also shared a split last year), and Amesouers, but overlap most with kindred spirits, Agalloch. What they offer above and beyond what these visionary acts already have is loads and loads of gorgeous, irresistible melodic hooks. Not that their contemporaries don’t use hooks with their own definitive aplomb, but Les Discrets celebrate them unabashedly.
The evocative nature of Septembre Et Ses Dernières Pensées is evident at once in the beautiful and compelling chord progressions that lead off the album’s first proper song “L’ Échappée,” a track also featured on the split with Alcest. Pensive and mysterious, they set the stage for a series of songs that effectively draw the sonic parallel with our most pondered, rarely resolved concerns: life, love, loss. “Les feuilles de l’olivier” underscores the gravity of such questions with rolling double bass and heavily strummed acoustics, while the ethereal leads of “Song for Mountains” implore us to look outside ourselves in that song’s Agallochian appeal to Nature.
Deceptively intricate dynamics at work throughout the album locate much of their power in the interplay between the organic warmth of the rhythm section and the layered harmonic vocals. The former provides remarkable depth, the latter great breadth in affording each song a vast emotional expanse. “Chanson d’automne,” for example, is a slow, shadowy meditation that intertwines sublimely picked acoustics with haunting, spacious vocals and soaring leads, simultaneously imparting uncertainty and anticipation. And, even as the insistent gallop of “Effet de Nuit” drives dire melody and “Svipdagr & Freyja” ups the ante another notch, relentlessly pushing heavy weight before dissipating into relaxed ambience, there are several moments of quiet contemplation, as in the delicate “Sur le Quais,” brief, inspiring title track, and reluctantly optimistic closer, “Une Matinée d’ Hiver.” Ultimately, although Septembre is excellent at its darkest and most brooding, it is the luminous sentiment of hope to which the album inevitably returns, and in which it finds its truest strength.
Les Discrets’ debut LP is art, through and through. It is that rare art, though, that feels as if it’s crafted more for the beholder than by the artist and yet retains its esoteric spirit. Like all great art, Septembre Et Ses Dernières Pensées should very well set the critics community to bubbling with unbridled adulation. That would be fantastic, as it is a remarkable work, and is an indisputable candidate for album of the year honors among those of us who revel in such things. But, as important as all of that is for the art and its creator, what I really want is for you, the listener, to grab hold of this masterpiece and make it your own. I think that is what Mr. Teyssier had in mind and anything less would simply be inexcusable.