Smohalla - _Résilience_
(Arx Productions, 2011)
by: Chaim Drishner (8.5 out of 10)
This album -- whose existence as well as that of the unheralded band behind it has taken this reviewer by total and utmost surprise -- is easily one of the honorable contenders for the very best albums 2011 has yielded. It crams within its magical 45 minutes all the goodness of avantgarde-ism, electronica, metal, neo-classicism and experimentation, taking these to the next level of the musical evolution, masterfully assembling these elements, fitting them into one another in almost perfect a manner and offering an album full of inspiration, originality and radiating beauty.

Smohalla, named after the 19th century native American dreamer-prophet, is a young French outfit, with tons of creativity and the equivalent talent for realizing all this spurting inventiveness, transforming it into a beautifully dark, exquisitely performed, singularly sounding album everybody who's hungry for good, airtight, dreamy music should experience.

_Résilience_ is consciously pompous yet not cheesy, its bombast is hard hitting and pleasantly somber. Even though the album is full to the rim with countless musical ideas, influences, agendas, sounds and colors, it is surprisingly and completely devoid of filler: every second counts here, every note has its meaning in the grand scheme of this album's message, the message being dreams; dreams with which one would face reality, cope with its many thorns. Ironical? Indeed, but also is this magnificent album...

_Résilience_ is a dreamy manifestation of a young troubled mind trying to cope with the many paradoxes of the post modern life. It portrays life's extremes in the form of melodic, ethereal neoclassical complex parts clashing with more violent black metallic-edged brief maelstroms.

Hypnotizing the audience with a charade of quasi-operatic qualities, Smohalla's crowded, unique and elaborate sound at times plays tricks on the listener: masqueraded as being human generated where the vocals are concerned, in truth, some of the "human vocals" are generated using an electronic theremin (etherophone), a device yielding a fake soprano-like high-pitched howling voice of sorts, a piercing and singular sound imitating the human vocal chords, challenging the audience with its peculiar alien familiarity.

The music captured on _Résilience_ is grand; it is as exquisite and darkly melodic as it is extremely violent and shadowy; the thick aural cloth has been embroidered with multi-layered intertwining threads densely, and ultimately harmoniously, stitched; the orchestration, the choosing of the instruments, the electronica factor, the chore of assembling all these estranged parts together into something coherent and organic -- is ingenious and captivating. The result is a record one could listen to back to back for almost eternity, each pressing of the play button will bear new discoveries and yield new dimensions screaming to be explored...

Highly recommended!


(article published 15/1/2012)

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