December 13, 2016

Lantlôs - Melting Sun

By Sean Golyer. Uninteresting. Slow. Samey. All words that ran through my mind upon first listen years back, and subsequent listens. I didn’t think much of it back then and sorta wrote it off as a weird little experiment from the band post-Neige, but nothing more. Cherry Quartz had some cool moments, though. I did like that track. I gave it some more listens.
By Sean Golyer.

Artwork by Pascal Hauer.

Uninteresting. Slow. Samey. All words that ran through my mind upon first listen years back, and subsequent listens. I didn’t think much of it back then and sorta wrote it off as a weird little experiment from the band post-Neige, but nothing more.

Cherry Quartz had some cool moments, though.
I did like that track. I gave it some more listens.

Well, I guess Azure Chimes is pretty neat too.
Yet more listens.

Damn, Aquamarine Towers has a really great climax and a pretty catchy line.
Before I knew it, I was giving this album a spin on (at least) a weekly basis for months on end. That continues to this day.

One thing the album always had going for it was its sound. It’s so warm, pleasing, and inviting on just about any set of speakers or headphones I put it through. Not to mention it’s not quite like anything else I have heard before or since, particularly in the context of the type of music Lantlos is writing. There’s moments where the guitar tone has a very “scooped”, almost “djent” sound to it, but not always. This is usually a turn-off for me, but used here it seems pleasant and fitting. The bass sits very nicely and prominently under the guitars, adding further layers of warm distortion. Accenting them are some distorted bass synths that crop up from time to time. The vocals are awash in reverb, but not buried to the point that I can’t understand them. The drum-work rounds everything out, being subtle and just carrying the rhythm and adding cymbal washes when needed, or being the driving force behind the heavier moments on the album.

Photos by Webzine Chuul.

The use of space and atmosphere in the mix is other-worldly. “Ethereal” is an adjective I like to use when describing this album to others. While other related bands in a similar vein such as Alcest or Les Discrets often feel like they’re chasing the sound of childhood nostalgia, bittersweet memories, or just plain melancholy, Melting Sun transports you to another space and time altogether. A saccharine heaven, filled with unending rays of pure, golden sunlight reflecting and refracting against a sea of multi-colored crystalline mountains. A place to depart and reflect on the better parts of your once earthly existence. This is the ultimate escapist album and has a nostalgia all its own when the final moments of closer “Golden Mind” wash over you.

That’s not to say all this “feel good” atmosphere comes without heaviness. To the contrary, the masterful use of space and timing only serves to make the heavier and more energetic movements that much more explosive and massive. If you’re any level of a guitar tone-head, or like me just really enjoy the sound of well-crafted mixes, this album is nothing short of a marvel. A wide variety of clean and distorted timbres and textures are on display at any given time. Nary a sound ever comes across as “thin”, “muddy”, or out of place. Nor does it sound too clean or overproduced, it’s all very organic. A testament to a careful and well thought out recording and mixing process, most of which seems to have been done in-house with the band. Impressive.

Melting Sun is a gorgeous album waiting to reward the patient listener. Its hooks are subtle, but they’re certainly there. It proudly sits among some of my favorite albums of all time, or at the very least one of my most listened to. There’s a sort of unspeakable quality to both the atmospheric songwriting and the huge mix that makes it difficult for me to put into words even after over 2 years of listening to it regularly. If you wrote this one off early on as I once did, I highly recommend giving it another spin. There’s more depth here than what it initially lets on, it just takes a willing listener to take the dive as I have.

Tagged with 2014, Lantlôs, post-metal, Prophecy Productions, rock, Sean Golyer, shoegaze, Webzine Chuul
2 comments:
  1. I guess it's time to give it another listen. I've tried hard with this album. There's no reason to affirmatively dislike it, it just never grabbed me. But OK...one more spin.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've been listening to it a few times since Sean's review. It's pleasant, and it does get better each time...

      Delete