Review Summary: Meditative Mood Music
I dislike writing reviews that include definitions of what I, personally, feel or think during the listening experience of an album but a little bit of personal input was necessary to convey my thoughts properly when listening to Norwegian soloist, Sylvaine’s, second album.
For ages I just couldn’t get into “Wistful”. Everything was there- the beautiful singing, the transcendent soundscapes: all the tools where laid out to craft an emotional listening experience. But it was like being given the tools yet no instruction manual. After the 4th play I had succumb that the reason behind it was that it is merely a projection of only Sylvaine’s own life, hence why I couldn’t get it. Before reviewing it under the aforesaid opinion, I was struck with some awful news and for some reason I turned to “Wistful”.
Then, it just clicked. As I was wallowing in my own grief, her angelic voice appeared during ‘Delusions’ and I felt soothed almost instantly. From then on, “Wistful” had seized my full attention. Through oceans of gorgeous singing and surreal instrumentation, a blade of light pierces through these dense atmospherics near the half way point where her signing and instrumentation subside to reveal a fragile, resonant guitar tone. As draining as this moment is, it’s her embracing wails that really tug at the heartstrings during ‘Delusions’.
“Wistful” is positively drenched in reflective segments that at first may seem withdrawn but give it due patience and a right frame of mind and it will delicately reveal its sheltered passion. ‘A Ghost Trapped In Limbo’ sounds similar to the content of her debut album “Silent Chamber, Noisy Heart” and captures the sense of desolate soundscapes as melancholy lyrics give way to isolated strums of guitar and back again to comfort repetitive harmonies and the sound of her sorrowful voice. ‘Saudade’ evokes a more tentative feeling with intermittent quivers of percussion but the sharp, glittering notes of guitar seem to keep the mournfulness at bay. The closing title track mirrors the introspection of ‘Delusions’ that makes “Wistful” itself a fulfilling listen. It’s a very dreamy song where Sylvaine graciously lulls us to sleep through echoes of yearning harmonies and stunning wails. Towards the end, a string quartet appears that lays the song, album and listener to a peaceful rest.
The issue with this kind of mesmeric music is that it is so difficult to absorb. “Wistful” is a hard album to get into because it’s so layered with visionary elements. It’s an album that you’ve got to be in a mood for (nothing particular, simply ‘the right mood’) but you’ve just got to feel something to understand this music. Sylvaine also displays her rasping approach of singing during ‘Earthbound’ and ‘In The Wake of Moments Passed By’. The visceral approach is here to enforce the battle between lighter and heavier moments however the instrumentation, courtesy of Neige (Alcest), sounds harsh enough for her to abandon the superfluous screams and focus on her ethereal cleans, which are a clear strong point.
“Wistful” sounds like it contains a reflection of Sylvaine’s personality within it however it’s an album where, if you care to take a deeper glance, you can see parts of yourself inside too.