Boomkat Product Review:
*Beautiful new album from The Alps, capturing a sense of pastoral wonder reminiscent of 1970's psychedelia and the widescreen exuberance of Serge Gainsbourg and Jean-Claude Vannier's renowned work together, all offset by experimental vignettes influenced by GRM's musique concrète archive and the Radiophonic Workshop*
Reunited for a fourth full-length together, Tarentel's Jefre Cantu-Ledesma once again joins forces with Alexis Georgopoulos of ARP and Scott Hewicker of Troll. While their last album cemented the trio's position as experts in vintage soundtrack-style instrumentals and updated krautrock rhythms, 'Le Voyage' takes a more psychedelic route, serving up a series of vignettes that could have been plucked straight from the more obscure and experimental regions of late '60s and early '70s music. Previously, The Alps have conjured references to bands like Magma, Goblin and Popol Vuh, and that's a theme carried over here, but more pastoral, minimalist influences shine through as well, lending opener 'Drop In' a similar feel to the pastoral post-rock of Swedish group Tape. The album really kicks in with 'Crossing The Sands', whose fluttering acoustic riffs connect with pattering toms and wah-wah mauled lead lines for a first glimpse at the kind of wild, improv-threatening psych manoeuvres that recurs throughout the album (coming to a head on the title-track's immense ten-minute space-rock epic). The album's centrepiece 'St. Laurent' provides a massive highlight, evoking Serge Gainsbourg and Jean-Claude Vannier's work together, whilst deploying dual fuzz guitars redolent of Brian Eno's 'Another Green World'. The astoundingly crisp production and engineering comes across beautifully, really highlighting how much this record sounds like it's been plucked from another era. Continuing to gaze back forty years or so, a couple of raga-inspired pieces arrive towards the close of the album: 'Black Mountain' throws together sitars, lapsteel slides and meandering modal piano, while last track 'Telepathe' underlines the power of the band's incredible bass tones - somehow capturing that classic prog feel you'd get from Goblin's Fabio Pignatelli or perhaps even Yes' Chris Squire (without the flashy runs of course). One of the very finest aspects of this record is the selection of diversionary miniatures strung between the lengthier, more fully developed compositions. On tracks like 'Marzipan' and 'Petals' the group reveal their love of early electronics and old tape collages: the former captures the mood of a hallucinated grand tour of Europe, piling together string quartet recitals with the flow of Alpine streams, chattering voices and the occasional soaring jet engine - the montage effect of the piece is quite brilliant. 'The Lemon Tree' could have been lifted straight from an old GRM musique concrète archive, layering primordial oscillator tones, tape-skewered percussive edits and spiralling piano flourishes. Le Voyage is a real feast of a record that requires your immediate attention.