Review: Maths – Descent

Review by: Meriel Longmore
Review score: 5/5

I first became aware of MATHS after seeing them play live in a local venue & it was this strong live performance that cemented my interest in the band, it was impossible to look away during the time the band were on stage & since then… well, I haven’t looked away since. “Descent” is MATHS’ first full-length professionally released album, following their blistering split release with THROATS. The album could certainly be described as a breakthrough & exudes the skill, maturity & creative imagination of a well-established and confident band. It’s obvious from the outset that a lot of effort and attention to detail has been invested in “Descent” and the rewards are certainly reaped in the form of this album.

Early on in their career MATHS successfully mastered the arty Screamo / Post Hardcore approach (in the classic 90s sense not the modern incarnation of “Screamo”) of cult bands such as FUNERAL DINER, ORCHID, CITY OF CATERPILLAR, PAGE NINETY-NINE, etc, with all the spellbinding atmosphere of “Eye of the Storm” era NEUROSIS or later CULT OF LUNA. However, “Descent” sees a distinct development in their sound, a far more personal approach that surpasses the already emotive and passion-filled atmosphere of classic Screamo. This building of character is hardly surprising as members of MATHS are actively involved in all manner of side-projects, including shadowy, obscure & complex depressive Black Metal band LIVIMØRKET, and also notably the Doom / Drone / Ambient project LIFE IN THE DARK. MATHS is a behemoth of creative energy & it’s no wonder that they have become so adept at songwriting to such a degree.

MATHS are one of those bands who sidestep the whole issue of “genre” thus appealing on many different levels. Although the band has roots in alternative Punk / Hardcore, there is much here to be found for those who follow the more obscure, outside edges of modern outsider Black Metal. For example; I have long thought that bands such as ISOLATION, TRIST, & AUSTERE, have much in common with Screamo / Post-Hardcore due to their use of acoustic / atmospheric guitar passages, somber mood & passionately screamed vocals. Even “Springtime Depression” era FORGOTTEN TOMB shares these elements in common. Therefore the aforementioned bands & also those such as LíAM, AMESOUERS & LES DISCRETS, are not a million miles away from MATHS and are certainly comparable though the approach is coming from different angles. However, MATHS includes other interesting elements such as poetic lyrics, spoken and punky shouted narratives that bring to mind SLINT plus also sensitively arranged dark piano / keyboard pieces.

It would be fair to say that MATHS should appeal to open-minded / artistic individuals who appreciate bands that encompass warm yet heavy atmosphere, powerful varied rhythms, melancholic riffs, sorrowful passages and awesome screamed vocals. This is honest and genuine alternative music at its heartfelt best and it’s as simple as that. Amen.

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Incoming: Les Discrets – Septembre Et Ses Dernieres Pensees

Listen to Les Feuilles De L’olivier.

Released March 29th, we will have copies around the middle of April. We are focusing on getting copies of the Art Book edition (see below) and Vinyl. The artbook version presents the album in a 56 page hardcover book with illustrations by Fursy, band photos, a foreword and lyrics (including english translations) and the short film Tir Nan Og on DVD. The artbook is limited to 1000 copies.

Debut album from Les Discrets a shoegaze, post-rock, experimental, acoustic project. the sole musical creation of Fursy Teyssier who also played in Amesoeurs and has created artwork for other bands including, Alcest, Amesoeurs, Arctic Plateau, Agalloch, and Neun Welten.

In the last few years, the French art scene had quite a few surprises in store. In the wake of exceptional bands such as Alcest and Amesoeurs, a new project proceeds to do away with France’s position as exotic outsider. Originating from the same set as the above-mentioned artists, Les Discrets – the solo project of enterprising musician, filmmaker, and painter Fursy Teyssier – continues their tradition. With his debut album “Septembre et ses dernières pensées,” he has created a captivating achievement far beyond a purely musical framework – a fusion of music, film, and painting that results in an oft-attempted, but seldom achieved total work of art. Conceptually dedicated to the trinity of nature, love, and death, even the title of the album (“The Final Thoughts of September”) merges with the predominant undertones. In tracks filled with thoughts of sadness and devotion such as the painfully beautiful “Chanson d’automne,” the French vocals sound restrained and nearly sacral, and the guitars in “Effet de nuit” paint a misty picture of the nightside of nature. Les Discrets weave folkloristic motifs and dabs of post rock into their music in an equally fragile way, but in the end, they are only bound to themselves and to the artistic expression of this profound album. “Septembre et ses dernières pensées” marks a brilliant start for this young project, a piece of art full of evocative power and ruminant depth that breaks fresh ground by combining music with other forms of art. Apart from a regular Digipak CD edition, “Septembre et ses dernières pensées” will also be released as a 56-page art book edition containing numerous illustrations and background information as well as Fursy Teyssier’s award-winning short film “Tir Nan Og”

1. L’envol des corbeaux 1:26
2. L’échappée 4:03
3. Les feuilles de l’olivier 4:36
4. Song for mountains 5:58
5. Sur les quais 3:03
6. Effet de nuit 5:54
7. Septembre et ses dernières pensées 2:28
8. Chanson d’automne 7:39
9. Svipdagr & Freyja 3:58
10. Une matinée d’hiver 4:06

Updates

A series of quick updates:

The latest Hateful Abandon recording session was so much of a success that A Captives Keen Teeth has been removed from consideration for the next album. V/M assures us the new material surpasses it. Three tracks are near complete and should be available to preview in the next month or so. Visit the official myspace page to read the lyrics for two of these.

Ghast have several new concerts scheduled, and the recent Bristol gig was an unexpected epic – after all three support acts pulled out, Ghast stepped up and played an hour long set, opening with a Bethlehem cover/jam!! Keep up-to-date on the official site and the official myspace.

Fursy has added a couple of songs (not final) which will eventually be released as a studio-recorded debut album. There will be a big announcement relating to Les Discrets soon. Sadly, not for us; but we will have some great, relevant, news at the same time. Listen to Corbeaux Automne Ciel gris (an older song re-added) and Song for Mountains (the updated version) at the official myspace page.

Finally, the zine site has been re-integrated back into the label site, as it was with the old website. There was not enough activity last year to warrant a seperate site, but it has not been abandoned. When time allows new interviews will be added.

Les Discrets Update

A few updates from Fursy regarding the musical side of Les Discrets and his artistic/animation work:

Vote for the short film ‘Tir Nan Og’ created by Fursy at the Third Screen Film Festival.

A blog about the new, upcoming, animated film.

To those following the progress of Les Discrets first release — there have been many discussions about this, the current proposal is a combination of new recordings (including some you’ve already heard, some from an older project which had Neige on bass) and older recordings in their original form, spanning the past 6-7 years.

Amesoeurs Interview

Update:
Amesoeurs LogoAmesoeurs will release the forthcoming album through Code666. Visit their official website.
You can hear samples of the forthcoming Alcest album here.
Fursy (guitarist in Amesoeurs) has a project called Les Discrets, you can learn more here.

Amesoeurs are a reflection of our modern urban world. The endless grey shit stained concrete walked by the comatose masses, littered with needles, whores and bums. The useless working man trying to mask his tears with alcohol and television. Money and disease the duet that rule our world, infect our veins and corrupt our soul.
“Ruines Humaines” is the debut release from AMESOEURS, the reflective project of French master Neige (ALCEST, PESTE NOIRE) and Audrey Sylvain.
Neige was a central reason why the Mortifera album is such an amazing release and the skill he brought to that album is very present here. The music is a mixture of the melancholic ‘black’ metal found in Mortifera and Alcest mixed with strong inspiration from British bands Joy Division and The Cure.
Sad but contemplative, not offering any solutions or judgments, just a frustrated mirror held up to the sprawling city wasteland – but somehow, unintentionally, making it sound quite appealing…

Todestrieb extends our appreciation to Neige and Audrey for the chance to discover more about this exceptional band.

Interview with Neige & Audrey S.
Thanks to Noël Benoit for the translation.
3 January 2007

Did the idea of Amesoeurs (musically / thematically) form before the band itself in 2004? Was it something that has been in your minds for a while, or did something specifically spark it that year?

AUDREY

As for me, the idea of this concept was already in my mind before I met Neige. I wasn’t a musician at the beginning but a dancer. I was evolving around this concept with rock/coldwave/new wave choreographies I used to dance on, which were close to the style performed by Amesoeurs. Amesoeurs helps me complete my feelings through music.

NEIGE

By the same token, Amesoeurs was a concept in the beginning before it became a music. It was an idea born inside me during my childhood. I lived for many years in the countryside and I have never got used to the city. When I was going there, it felt like another planet, both because of the setting and the attitude of the people living in the city. It fascinates me as much as it disgusts me. I’m particularly attracted by the city at night, its atmosphere, its unpredictability, the cold lights from these huge futuristic buildings. For most people, this is totally insignificant but to my eyes, it conveys something romantic in the first sense of the term: an unbelievable setting suitable for delusions, stories and fantasies. The key element that made me transform all this into music was the discovery of new wave and post punk, the perfect soundtrack for this kind of universe.
However, Amesoeurs is not confined into its own concept, we don’t want to become predictable. Thus, I hope we will have a few texts that will deal with other themes compared to those we are used to talk about.

What happened during your first gig, was it a success?

AUDREY

I won’t say our first gig was successful. I only had a month of bass practice and I made a few mistakes here and there ahah. Moreover, we were both sick!

NEIGE

Indeed, this gig was quite mediocre, even if it stays a good moment. We played in front of 30 people and our setlist was really short, that’s why we haven’t enjoyed it properly. It took place in Laudun, a village near Avignon. There were two rock bands after us, nothing groundbreaking.

Do you have other members for playing live?

NEIGE

We are looking for a bassist to complete the line-up but we haven’t received any positive answers for the time being.

Do you have any songs from that time (Summer 2004-April 2005) that have not been recorded (or released)?

AUDREY

Yes, we have a few songs from that time. Some of them have been discarded, we have to work more on the others, but they haven’t been recorded yet.

NEIGE

For the forthcoming album, we will record “Les ruches malades”. This is a song we played during our first gig. We will also record other songs written in 2004 and 2005, which are still uncomplete but we’ll work on them quite soon.

Do you think the sound changed after Fursy left, was he a big aspect of the band?

NEIGE

Fursy is a good friend of mine, we grew up and discovered music together. He knows very well what is Amesoeurs and what it represents, that’s why I regret his departure from the band. Had he lived closer and not been that busy with studies, he would certainly be our live bass player. However, he takes care of the visuals of the band with Isabelle Hanssen, which is by no means insignificant insofar as image is very important to us.

Audrey Sylvain

Audrey, have you been involved with any other bands previously or currently? What is special about Amesoeurs that it made you want to start recording?

AUDREY

Amesoeurs is my first band. When I’ve met Neige, I have discovered a sensitivity close to mine, that’s why we’ve decided to work together and that is the reason why I want to keep working and recording with him. I sometimes sing a little for Alcest (on the forthcoming album) and for Valfunde, the solo project of Famine from Peste Noire.

Your photos seem to show you as ghosts among the urban landscape. Somehow in it, but not part of it. Do you feel this way? Do you feel outside the world while being wrapped up in it?

AUDREY

I won’t be playing with Amesoeurs if I didn’t feel outside of this world, but I can’t criticize today’s society in two or three lines. I am aware of the fact that this society enables me to create music and to have enough spare time to satisfy my hobbies. To spit and shit on society when you are well-off is a teenager reflex. However, I’ve always felt ill-at-ease in the city because of this urban landscape that brings to me some existential questions I don’t have any answers to, like the sense of my life or about life in general.
To my eyes, the fact that we tend to make everything esthetic with our music helps us to see things more confidently. I won’t be saying this and I would have a different sensitivity if I wasn’t living in a urban area. In a few years, I will go away from the city and I will move in the North of France. I really prefer the North than the South of France with its landscapes and mentalities etc…

Do you ever think about making a video for the music? How do you imagine an Amesoeurs film would look if you had the freedom to make one?

AUDREY

I would include of lot of dancing, be it pictures or little videos. I would take advantage of the fact that Amesoeurs feels “dancing” to me. We could think about urban landscapes, characters and so on.
We could include pictures of the city at night that we would take from a good distance to display the bluish lights… or lost places, squats, bars, clubs and other filthy and fascinating places. A few portraits too. To put things in a nutshell, I would try to blend beauty and purity with sadness, dirt and violence.

NEIGE

The idea of an Amesoeurs video attracts me a lot. We would take the opportunity to present our visual universe that go hand in hand with our music in an indirect way to materialize and give life to this universe.

Amesoeurs Underground

The front cover photo by Isabelle Hanssen is of the London underground, have you ever visited here to experience the human rats being herded through the corridors, crowding into trains…?

NEIGE

Not in London, no, but the subway in Paris or Lyon is really a strange experience to me. To each his life, his goal, a place to go and nobody cares about each other. Then, the noise, the never-ending motion, the heat, the stench… It feels horrible to me, it’s a real agression to our senses. To my eyes, the subway is a relevant metaphor of the dehumanization, the anxiety, the stress and the sadness that stem from modern life. There’s a lot of people in the subway packed in a relative intimacy. You are forced to be close to them, to listen to what they say, to feel their smell though we have no connection with them , they go out and you never see them again.

From the outside it seems you play the largest part in the band – vocals, guitar, bass – do you think that’s true? Do you take control over the song writing and lyrics?

NEIGE

I write 90% of the music. However, Audrey sometimes shows up with a riff, like for “Faiblesse des sens” for instance. This song originates from a riff that Audrey wrote, to which I’ve added others to create a whole song. As for the drums, I usually have them in my head but if Winterhalter comes up with a more efficient drum pattern than mine, I don’t mind using his for the song.
The writing process in Amesoeurs is different from my other projects. I sometimes find a bass line first and then complete it with the guitar. The guitar doesn’t necessarily come first. About the texts, Audrey will write most of them on the forthcoming album, I will maybe write just one or two.

Neige, your guitar has a unique and recognizable quality. Which guitarists influenced you as you’ve created this sound?

NEIGE

No band or guitarist have influenced me on a melodic point of view, be it in Alcest or Amesoeurs. With Amesoeurs, it’s more about the way we stage the instruments and rhythms that I’ve been influenced. Joy Division for example, the sound, the atmosphere and the drum patterns that this band uses have left a mark on me.

Where was Ruines Humaines recorded? Are you happy with how everything sounds? How long did it take to complete? Do you think the Summer season had any impact on the sound/emotion?

NEIGE

I’ve recorded this MCD at home, with a 24-track digital recording device. I’m not by any means a sound engineer but the production of this MCD is quite satisfying to me, I’m quite pleased with what I’ve achieved  for once!
As usual, I’ve used a lot of time to complete the recording process, 5 or 6 months I guess. Summertime? I rather like it, this season means holidays and spare time to record some material without the anxiety of the studies.

Out of all the projects you’ve been involved with, is this most personal to you? Alcest is your solo work, but Amesoeurs seems more Human, or is that misunderstanding and Alcest is actually a much more personal/deeper work?

NEIGE

Both are profound but I think Alcest is my most personal project, I can’t clearly explain it, it’s really hard to talk about it. The concept of Amesoeurs is more comprehensible and human, it concerns all of us.

Alcest LogoWhat are the current plans with Alcest – still to re-record the EP and work on a new LP?

NEIGE

The Alcest album is almost done. It will be released in 2007 and will be entitled “Souvenirs d’un autre monde”, in English it means “Memories of another world”. This title is to be understood literally and it sums up the whole Alcest concept.

Can you find any redeeming qualities in the Modern world?

NEIGE

The easy access to arts and culture, the comfort of life in the good sense (not the new useless technology toys).

Where are some of your favourite places to be (in the world or just in your city)?

AUDREY

The Frigolet abbey, Bagnols les Bains, the Lozere forests, Brittany…

NEIGE

Quiet at home, or lots of other locations such as Brittany, the Perigord and Auvergne regions in France or Norway, a marvellous country I’ve had the chance to visit.

Do you feel nostalgia for a certain time in history? Do you feel humanity was of a higher quality in previous decades / generations?

NEIGE

I’ve always sucked about historical facts and I don’t feel attracted by another time than mine. Hum… maybe the 19th century. As for mankind’s evolution, I think you’ve always been able to find both great and lousy men, more or less kindly ones. The only difference is that our society, on a technologic level , offers means of destruction that are more efficient than in past times. For example: at war, now you can endanger the whole planet and its inhabitants and not only a handful of men, which is rather frightening.

You say the future album will develop your sound towards something more powerful, electronic, depressive. Will it sound very different to the MCD? Will you be using more/different instruments or changing vocal style?

NEIGE

Yes, the album will be quite different compared to the MCD, but still cold and desperate. Anyway, both black metal tracks of the MCD should have been used for Mortifera. The “real” Amesoeurs has always been rock but since these two songs were on a conceptual and emotional level quite close to Amesoeurs, I’ve decided to use them for the project.
The instruments will stay the same: guitars, bass, drums but we’re going to add a few rhythmic and electronic elements, probably from a drum machine or a sampler that we will mix with real drums. We want to give a genuine new wave touch to the album and create songs that are at the same time sad, violent and dancing.

AUDREY

Amesoeurs will be the soundtrack of deranged and smoky dancefloors.

Audrey Sylvain