Alcest - Kodama album review

Fascinating mix of East and West positions the French duo Alcest at prog’s forefront.

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There are times on Kodama when you get so lost in the musical miasma that it seems you’ve entered another universe, such is the compelling way in which Alcest have created sounds that envelop and beguile. On their fifth album, the French band pull in influences from Japanese quarters to augment European symphonic and black metal touches. In many respects, it’s easy to suggest that Alcest have encompassed everything they’ve done before, while expanding on the base.

That might indicate they’re content to throw anything and everything into the mix, but that’s not the case. What Kodama has is a refined focus, and it shows that the duo of Neige and Winterhalter – still the core of the band – are opening their horizons in an exciting yet gradual manner. When you listen to tracks such as Eclosion, Untouched and Oiseaux De Proie, what stands out is the way the musicians combine the intimacy of ambient flow with aggressive inferences and vast soundscapes, giving the compositions the atmosphere of a genuine cinematic experience. Alcest have long threatened to make an album that puts them right at the forefront of modern progressive music. This is the one.