Milanku ~ À l’aube

We are starting to suspect that everyone in Montréal is a post-rock artist.  The city, so integral to the genre’s development, continues to produce bands who keep the flame lit.  Milanku, now on its fifth release, brings the sense of grandeur and hard-earned development we’ve come to expect from the Montréal scene, and À l’aube is clearly influenced by GY!BE and other bands, save for perhaps that one thing.

Yes, there’s some screamo here, lasting less than a minute in the eleven-minute opener with the ironic title “de leurs silences”.  But it makes sense, though such segments make the album teeter on the edge of our instrumental fence.   The band is tackling some weighty topics, which cannot be gleaned by music alone, and conveys them in bursts, inspired by the works of Milan Kundera and the isolation of the pandemic.  Instrumental “il sera déjà trop tard” is about “feeling a loss of control”; subsequent pieces address information overload and violence against women.  Of course, if one does not know French (and in the closing piece, Swedish), such messages will fall short, replaced by a relatable sense of anger, a railing against the machine, a learned helplessness erupting into a guttural howl.  Late in the album a counter-balance arrives in the voice of Erika Angell, a voice of such sweetness that it acts as a thread of hope in a labyrinth.  This is where we met the band – at the end – before we went barreling back to the beginning.

For us, it always has been, and continues to be about the music, and this album’s visceral power cannot be denied.  The piece begins with a drone, and then a drum, and expands ever-so-slowly.  Melancholic melodies intertwined, producing a “great sadness,” a requiem for all that has been lost.  The Big Burst at the six-minute mark makes the largest impact, after which a man screams into the void one last time, impotent to change the trajectory of the world, only able to rail, rail against the dying of the light.  When one plays the opening notes of the album again, they sound even sadder, and round the cycle continues, sadness to anger and back again, a cycle of despair, a tragedy of repetition that has become the human race.  (Richard Allen)

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