Alpha du Centaure (France) : Lunar Post Rock
While listening to Mono, the great Japanese post-rock band, on youtube, the “next video” landed on Alpha du Centaure. As I was not watching, I thought I landed on an early Mono song and actually thought there was a nicer texture overall on the song.
I was happily surprised to discover that the music was actually from another band: Alpha du Centaure. They are a French post-rock outfit from the south-east of France, near where the famous wine Chateauneuf du pape is made.
Their bio states:
"Alpha du Centaure is a French lunar Post Rock quartet. Their music is tinged with shoegaze and while it does not conceal its influences (Slowdive, Alcest or even Mogwai, it sometimes blends them with ideas taken from jazz or pop music"
There is a reason I mentioned Chateauneuf du pape above (apart from the fact that I am a wine lover): The red is the only wine in the world made with 13 different type of grapes (more details here: Chateauneuf).
Alpha du Centaure's music, as presented in their bio, is a bit like that. While primarily post-rock, you can here many other influences put to good work. It is rare in such a young band to ba able to do that so well. So without further ado, let's talk about their music.
The comparison game
Well, it is an easy one. As I said above I thought it was an early Mono song. The spirit is the same. It just says it all.
The spirit, if not the music, is also close in many ways to the Thai post-rock band “Inspirative” (soon in Noise Artists all going well).
For the sound look somewhere between Pink Floyd and Alcest.
Of course, they are developing their own sound. As it is their first EP, this is quite an achievement.
Why we love them
They make very mature music: They obviously they have listened to a lot of music, of many styles. Far from copying their elders, they have integrated their music to create their own style and a very mature first EP.
They are not a one loop band: one trap for beginners in post-rock is to use loops ad-lib and just add dynamics to the song. Alpha du Centaure worked on melodies first and texture and dynamics second. I result in beautifully crafted songs, with many variations of melodies, verse, choruses.
Their capacity for texturing: Each song is beautifully crafted, with sounds, instruments and effects that differ from one piece to the other. They love to craft sound and know how to apply is to good effect. It is difficult at best of times. For a first EP, this is impressive.
La couleur de mes rêves (EP) (Colour of my dreams)- 2015
1. La couleur de me rêves 04 :26
2. La nuit esquisse d’obscurs reliefs brumeux 05 :12
3. Fredonner l’amertume de ton âme 04 :38
4. Tromper l’ennui et embrasser le néant 07 :29
La couleur de mes rêves (The colour of my dreams)
The song begins with a heavy kick begins, quickly joined by a piano hook at the back that gives the piece a beautiful theme, and joined by an ethereal guitar. The title fits really well to the song: it could be the colour of my dream indeed. A slow one, a nice one. Gliding slowly over the moon.
Textures and instruments are added slowly to climax soon like the best moments of Mono or Inspirative. It is like taking off for the beginning for a furious flight in space. It reminds me of Seagull from Ride in spirit, a lunar version of it, calmer, further away.
The violins that Alpha du Centaure added at the end add a marvellous texture, and help the climax of the song. Remind me of the video of Mono with a classical orchestra around minute 10 of the video (wordless).
The way it stops, very quickly, enhances the piece.
La nuit esquisse d'obscurs reliefs brumeux (The night draws dark foggy hilly landscape)
When I heard this song for the first time, the introductory guitar made me think of Chris Isaak's song lie to me. Far from being off my head, it is a compliment as Chris Isaak is really good at setting a songs's atomosphere with a reverb guitar (very shogazey in spirit). And that's exactly what Alpha du Centaure does with this song.
The background eery guiter that soon joins makes such a chilling texture.It sometimes sends chivers down my spine. It is a very lunar moment.
The chorus is such a happy moment, and the 2 guitare added in turna muted disto, and a areverb arpegio reverb just build the texture of this beautiful moment.
When the peice goes back to the verse again, the background reverb dreamy guitar joined by the Piano, adds texture and melody to the verse to enhance the whole piece. This song is just built layer upon layer like beautiful mille-feuille (cake).
You can indeed imagine being in a car, somewhere calm, driving at night and getting a glance at beautiful sightings along the way, under a beautiful moon that elevate your spirit. Such a beautiful song. When it fades away slowly you are almost disappointed as you could stay in this loop forever.
Tromper l'ennui et embrasser le néant (fool boredom and embrace the void)
Well, with an almost Zen title, you can expect an elevating song ... and that's what Alpha du Centaure gives us.
The recurring note, with flanger reverb guitar Give an ethereal feeling but very present to because of the guitar
When the bass and drums join, it sends the song in another plane. Embracing nothingness, but more in a Zen way where the absence of things is actually the presence of everything. Still a very positive energy of the whole thing
The piano line adds lightness on the whole piece that subsides in the background. The recurring theme is also very Zen-like as it is a hook towards the void. And the end,w tih just a piano is just that: you have find your center, the place where nothing exists and all is there.
Fredonner l'amertume de ton âme (hum the biterness of your soul)
The beginning of the song is almost clumsy. A simple strumming of a guitar, almost out of sync, joined by bass and a background very eery guitar. The later has a fantastic texture to it, almost menacing. It is a beautiful finding to illustrate the song's title: if you could find a sound of the bitterness of your soul, this could be it.
Then the bridge made me think of Pink Floyd at its best, with lyrical moments and deep reverberating sound.
The use of the fleeing, floating reverb at the back is beautiful, then the chorus arrives and instead of being bitterness it elevates what could have been a bitter piece.
It is an excellent first EP. The variety of textures, instruments, moods, melodies is such that it is difficult to acknowledge it is only a first try. Alpha du Centaure is already imprinting their music in the post-rock landscape. I can not wait for the next instalment of their work, scheduled around September this year.
Next week, meet the band, who they are, how they work, in a post including a great conversation we had with them.