Review by Jason Guest
In his Critique of Pure Reason, Immanuel Kant described the sublime thus: “Whereas the beautiful is limited, the sublime is limitless, so that the mind in the presence of the sublime, attempting to imagine what it cannot, has pain in the failure but pleasure in contemplating the immensity of the attempt.” With their second album – their first in five years – Gris have made an album that embodies that very definition. An album of ten tracks divided into two equal and symmetrical parts, melancholic, mournful and mysterious, À L’âme Enflammée, L’äme Constellée is breath-taking.
Following the unfolding strains of gentle strings, an acoustic guitar, and soft, rain-like percussion, the tortured screams and angelic vocals that emerge in the closing minute of the mournful ‘L’Aube’, segues into ‘Les Forges’, and the journey begins proper. A track that weaves its way across the full sonic spectrum and dynamic range that any number of artists would kill to be able to render as beautifully, this track alone would justify buying this album. ‘Samsara’, a two-minute, hauntingly atmospheric piece, provides a brief space for contemplation before the mass that is ‘Igneus’ unfolds, While this is another track worth the asking price alone, the depths of the album, its shape, and its elegance are by now much more apparent. With ‘Dil’ to close the first half, it’s clear that this is an album that has been arduously crafted, each track constructed not just to be a unique piece – which they all indeed are – but with the entire 80-minute journey in mind. The challenge of complementing, even augmenting what has already befallen is addressed effortlessly by Gris in the second part of this incredible album. With this part mirroring that of the first – even the length of each track corresponds to that of the first part – there is a transcendental harmony across the album. Like the chapters of a novel or the movements of a symphony, as the arc of the album unfolds, the picture comes more closely into focus, endlessly evolving as the voyage proceeds and continuing to blossom as every repeat play encourages further returns.
The assured musicianship that is consistent throughout the album bears a distinct sense of humility, of respect for the music and what it asks of the musicians in order for its commanding silhouette to find a form of expression suited to both its needs and its demands. In the creation of this exquisite album, the duo of Neptune and Icare have become both master and servant of the divine apparatus of melody, harmony, and rhythm. Simultaneously colossal and fragile, fortified yet vulnerable, mournful and ecstatic, to experience À L’âme Enflammée, L’äme Constellée is heart-breaking. A work of art.
9.5 out of 10
- Les Forges
- Seizième Prière
- Une Épitaphe de Suie