In its way, the French band, Alcest, creates a new sound that is as familiar as a friend you’ve never met.

With the January introduction of Shelter, its fourth, full-length release, the vanguard duo opens transparent doors into ethereal yet well-grounded territory. Multi-talented musicians Neige and Winterhalter have laid eight songs, with a bonus track on the deluxe editions, into a shoegazing haven while elevating them elsewhere with artistic strokes drawn from past and present.

Emerging from the metal framework of its past like sculpture from an armature, Alcest in Shelter enters a tuneful world of silver-spun strength with an earthy spirituality. Well-balanced, shimmering melodies drop into atmospheric layers that rise, crescendo and fall inward in a harmonious blend of voice and instrumentation. Plaintive vocals impart a sense of presence, nested in songs that reach, beckon, question and resolve to inner awareness in a poetry of sound.


From “Wings,” the life-affirming opus to the album, Alcest builds to “Opale,” with a subtle boldness that leads to the intimately conversational, “La Nuit Marche Avec Moi.” In “Voix Sereines,” peace and dissonance alternate on an introspective course to “L’Eveil Des Muses,” with its plodding movement that perseveres through darkened pain with the steady pace of endurance. The final track, “Delivrance,” yields ultimately to acceptance, with serenity and strength in the face of circumstance.

With Shelter, Alcest in any language tells the story of the human spirit: alternately uplifted and troubled, open-hearted and diminished, tarnished and redeemed. Through their music, creative-force Neige and drummer Winterhalter find a connection of soul and reason that carries the listener along in an honest journey that has to be heard to be felt.

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