A Backward Glance On A Travel Road

A Backward Glance On A Travel Road

Written by: DR on 04/10/2009 17:12:10

When you think of France you think of all the clichés: cheese, wine, bread etc. but most importantly, you think of art. Paris is the capital of the art world, and France has been played home to some of the most important artists. Picasso and Van Gogh both moved there, and the likes of Matisse and Monet were born and bred there. And of course, there is the Louvre. However, I for one, can't think of any French musicians besides Daft Punk. As you've probably already guessed, A Backward Glance are, indeed, from France.

Based on that artwork alone you can probably tell that A Backward Glance (just two members!) are a far cry from your average band. Add to that the French factor and you'll be expecting something flamboyant, weird, creative, passionate, but through all of that, you'd expect it'd be music for art's sake. A Backward Glance definitely do fit in to all of my aforementioned assumptions, and they do have a certain panache about them, but they are also strange, unconventional, crazy, excessive, dark, uplifting, and at times downright bone-chillingly scary, it's borderline pretentious; it is absolutely staggeringly brilliant.

Lumping this band in to one genre would be near impossible, they are in some ways progressive, but in others experimental and ambient. Moreover, they have a wide arsenal range, making great use of the guitar, both acoustic and electric, but they also use the cello, chants, choir-esque vocals harmonies, the piano and tribal percussion which all combine to create, well, this. The best used tool though is the samples, both original and borrowed. The highlight point being the depressing yet manic "Johnny Got His Gun", named after the film. They borrow a classic sample from said film which reads:

Inside me I'm screaming, nobody pays any attention. If I had arms, I could kill myself. If I had legs, I could run away. If I had a voice, I could talk and be some kind of company for myself. I could yell for help, but nobody would help me.

They convey the emotion of the film masterfully, before I was even aware what it is about the song went straight through me, warranting repeat after repeat, sending chills up my spine while my arms succumbed to goosebumps. Then I learned what the film/novel is about. A young soldier who had been fighting in World War One, caught in an explosion, he wakes up the next morning in hospital with no arms, no legs, no sight, but his mind functions perfectly - a prisoner in his own body.

Opener "Regular Barbary" starts off with hectic musicianship in the form of frenzied piano before the acoustic guitar kicks in and the song eventually descends in to quiet French-spoken samples. The acoustic guitar then picks back up, and the piano pattern from the start jumps back in. Another sample, this time in English, carries until the vocalist overlaps and starts to whisper "You fell to sleep, in a silver hearse, where you used to think that you were young". Both "In Absentia" songs take a slightly more ambient turn, but that familiar guitar, piano and vocal whisper ensemble are ever-present. The closer "Approximativement Moi", again, more ambiance, but this time with no guitar or piano, but instead, haunting female vocals which makes for an eerie yet entrancing end to a wonderful album.

This album is enough to make you fall in love with music all over again. It's a modern masterpiece, conveying magnificently constructed emotion that seamlessly switches between hope, depression, fear and euphoria. It's like nothing I've ever heard before. Take the ostentatiousness of The Mars Volta, the ambiance of Sigur Ros and the raw emotion of Jeff Buckley, and maybe, just maybe, you might start to comprehend something that begins to approach this album. I can't recall ever being more moved by music; it's the best thing I remember hearing in recent years. I may look back and regret not giving it the full 10, but...

Download: Regular Barbary, Johnny Got His Gun, Hier Régnant Désert. (The entire album is a free download)
For Fans of: Art?
Listen: Myspace

Release Date 01.07.2009

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