L’Effondras ~ Les Flavescences

We usually leave the hard stuff to our friends at Echoes & Dust, but this one was too good to resist.  Lyon post-rock / post-metal threesome L’Effondras channels the might of Tool in four long tracks and adds a whole lot of birds.  Alternately known as ⊙ (good luck finding that on your keyboard), the band has been developing its sound over the course of the past few years and has finally settled on a brand of accessible yet pulverizing roughage.  Witness the way “Les rayons de cendre” breaks down twice into a restrained version of itself (listen and one can hear the birds) before plunging back into unapologetically post-metal formations.  One can picture the ash swooping around the fire. We suspect the woman to the left is not leaving, but dancing ~ for who can resist such a conflagration?

The album is surprisingly melodic for its genre; it’s possible that the trio is reflecting the sweetness of the birds.  The contrast between the tweets and the riffs, the cooing and the crashing, graces the album with a refreshing patina.  In “Lux Furiosa”, a smattering of electronics is followed by the shaking of a tambourine, a tiny hint of the album’s hard rock roots.  But just as the track seems to have settled in, it collapses, revealing its innermost workings ~ then rises and falls in a series of death throes.  In this piece, one must strain to hear the birds, unlike the finale of “Phalene”, which offers them a space to call and peep.  A Norse horn echoes in response, trailing into a sustained chord.  The chord ~ indeed, the entirety of the first three tracks ~ turn out to be prelude for an ambitious 34-minute closer.

Can the length sustain the weight?  It can.  “Le Serpentaire” winds around as one might expect from its title, teasing the fire in lighter and spark.  By the third minute, the anticipation is palpable.  Louder and thicker the trio plays, bursting through with louder timbres in the eighth minute, breaking down in the tenth and continuing to tease for a while before the satisfying conclusion.  The 19th minute offers the most beautiful interlude, tumbling into a long, languid segment of comforting guitar music that winds down like a fire, eventually leaving only embers.  And then, for ten minutes, the birds return, happy to be warm and safe.  One doesn’t expect such a long segment of field recordings on a post-metal album, but they turn out to be the most appealing factor.  In the final two minutes, the band reveals itself not to have left, but simply to have remained quiet as nature has sprung to life around them.  The closing strums are like as warm as the company of friends around a campfire.  (Richard Allen)

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