By Jonathan Smith
Ariettes Oubliées… is the disappointing follow-up to Les Discrets’ 2010 debut Septembre Et Ses Dernières Pensées. This new album fails to capture the atmospheric momentum that lead to the first release becoming one of my top albums of that year. This doesn’t mean that Ariettes Oubliées… is by any means a terrible album on its own merits, but it does mean that it suffers considerably when it is inevitably compared to its precursor.
One of the major problems with Ariettes Oubliées… is that it’s never able to capture the same mood as its first full song. Les Discrets (and its creative epicentre Fursy Teyssier) are becoming defined in my mind by their ability to write arresting openings (twice now the first two tracks have been connected together as more or less one piece). Ariettes Oubliées… starts out promising enough, with the opening melancholic instrumental leading directly into the bombastic “La Traversée.” The final few minutes of that track is composed of the stuff that makes the whole post-rock/blackgaze/insert-name-here style so enchanting and meditative. It’s a song that deserves to be played on repeat. Later on, “Après l’ Ombre” is an eerie track built mostly around acoustic instruments that is grounded in the kind of inspiration that feels closer to what is best about Les Discrets.
The trouble begins when the third track, “Le Mouvement perpétuel,” more or less drops the momentum that has been generated and instead goes for an unwarranted shift to a bleaker and more lethargic pace—one that almost stops the album dead in its tracks. Things pick up again in the later part of the song, but by that point the mood has shifted dramatically enough that I’ve often been tempted to switch to something else that recaptures the same vibe as that offered by “La Traversée.” Despite its generous running length, sonically the rest of the album feels less inspired and shorter than the end result of Septembre Et Ses Dernières Pensées. A musical harkening back to opening track “Linceul d’hiver” in the opening moments of closing song “Les Regrets” feels less like a dramatic full-circle and more like a lazy attempt at creating closure. Without taking Les Discrets’ sound to a more adventurous place, Ariettes Oubliées… unfortunately ends up sounding like an adequate but less inspired version of the band’s debut.