Review in SSMT

Les Ténèbres du Dehors is the second release in a trilogy of albums recently completed by the pan-European music consortium Elend. The trilogy is concerned with events and themes found in Milton's Paradise Lost, with specific detail on Lucifer's fall from grace and descent into Hell. This album is concerned specifically with Lucifer's defiance and the quasi-revolutionary act of denouncing the Christian god. The theme is dark and so is the music of Elend. With an impeccable sense of atmosphere and drama, Elend achieves a real sense of beauty and darkness within the framework of complex and difficult compositions.

The music is a combination of neo-classicism, neo-romanticism and ethereal ambient, with a hint of atonality and dissonance. The sound is defined by a combination of synthesizers, violins and varying vocal styles. The synthesizer programming is top notch, sounding very much like a live orchestra in many places. The music flows from lush organic melodies infused in harmony, into dark and blaring atonal passages, and finally into loose free-form ethereal ambience. The dominant sound is hauntingly Romantic, often times bordering on transcendent and otherworldly.

The vocals are provided primarily by two soprano singers (Eve Gabrielle Siskind and Nathalie Barbary). Seperate, their vocals are beautiful; together, unbelievable. But the two composers, Renaud Tschirner and Iskandar Hasnawi are also heard by way of whispers, low singing, and (interestingly enough) growling. The growling and shrieking really adds another dimension to the music, creating a foreboding and threatening atmosphere in many of the calmer moments and creating chaos and dissonance in the atonal segments of the music. Some of the best parts occur when the sopranos are singing in high, angelic unison, while horrible shrieks blister about (usually representing Lucifer). The contrast is truly staggering, and it must have taken some degree of good intuition on the band's part to know where to properly integrate the polar opposites and to what effect.

This album is a fine way to transcend the mundane; it is one of those rare pieces of music that allows the listener to drift away into other worlds (in this case, the pastoral Paradise and the very layers of the abyss). When I listen to this album I quickly forget the everyday world and find myself immersed in the immaterial and ethereal. The music is dark, but also very beautiful. Les Ténèbres du Dehors is truly a classic.

Review by James Slone