February 1, 2010

A Backward Glance on a Travel Road - s/t

l_663506af36d842b786d684c5ec8ac8b9Recently, I was introduced to a band called Hypno5e. That's right, just like hypnose but a 5 in place of the s. The album was called Des Deux L'une Est L'autre and it was a rather amazing experience. The French act delivered an amazingly inventive brand of extreme progressive metal that was, simply put, awe inspiring. Hot on the heels of that experience comes A Backward Glance on a Travel Road, a side project for a couple of Hypno5e members. Could it be possible that this could be an even more extreme album? Or perhaps a more traditional metal excursion? It turns out not that neither of those thoughts were true. I could not have been less prepared for what I experienced.

While Hypno5e's music is extreme experimental metal, A Backward Glance on a Travel Road is an acoustically driven excursion into avant garde soundscapes. The sound is distinctly non-metal. As different as it is from their main group, the music crafted by Emmanuel Jessua and Thibault Lamy seems to be cut from the same cloth.

A Backward Glance Down a Travel Road's self-titled debut album is one of almost ethereal beauty. It is accessible enough to be almost instantly caught up in it, while being so drastically different than anything we are used to hearing to be an utterly unique experience. This is the sort of music that can take you on a journey into your mind with its soul-searching expanse of sound. It is really hard to describe without actually having you listen to it.


What is interesting are the elements that connect the two bands together. Both are interested in creating soundscapes, both make use of spoken word segments in both French and English, and they are both about pushing boundaries while remaining eminently listenable. There is even a journey into Hypno5e territory with "Hier Regnant Desert." Just imagine what an experimental metal track would sound like if played on acoustic guitar. Yes, it is quite different. Still, it sounds right. I know that sounds odd, but while it seems to be derived from an electric guitar driven metal song, it sounds perfectly natural played acoustically.

The album opens with "Regular Barbary." It begins with a cacophony of acoustic guitar strings and abused piano keys before it gets to the groove that leads us through the layered musical nightmare. The guitar is our guide while the voices play with our mind, the piano shocks to keep you focused, before adding in the wailing voice towards the end, all adding up to an experience that cannot be denied.


The opening song leads directly into "Falling." It is an atmospheric piece built on a bed of synthesizers. There is something profoundly sad and morose about this song, especially as the voice comes in saying "Falling... a rainy day." It weighs on the soul as guitar strings are plucked over the synth bed. Everything adds up to a song dense with orchestration, simplistic in appearance yet as deep as an ocean with effect on the listener.

"Johnny Got His Gun" is probably my favorite song. It is a song with frightening implications of a living nightmare from which there is no escape. The guitar again plays as guide through the tragic landscape. The song is inspired by the film of the same name (the same film that also inspired Metallica's "One") about a soldier who wakes up to find he has no limbs, cannot talk, and has no way of communicating. The song includes clips of the films subject speaking (thinking?) about his predicament and his desire to die.

Bottomline. In total, the album is comprised of seven tracks, each one adding something more to the whole, expanding on what came before. It is an impressive work that takes the listener on a journey into the recesses of the mind. The album is an experience that is not to be missed.

Be sure to visit their MySpace page to get the link to download the album for free! That's right, the band is offering the album free to help spread the word!

Highly Recommended.

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