Underground Sounds: Sylvaine – Wistful

Label: Season of Mist
Band: Sylvaine
Origin: Norway

Myrkur has opened the floodgates it sometimes seems of more ambient, folk and soundscape oriented dark music, but maybe I’m just imagining that Sylvaine is of the same cut of cloth, but definitely aiming for a more shoegazy sound on her second album ‘Wistful’, which is out on Seasons of Mist.

The term doomgaze has always been a bit peculiar to me, but listening to this album I can see where it comes from and how it fits in with the compositions of the fey-like Norse lady. The artwork also speaks of the musical experience, with a foggy painting of a natural setting. Misty in the early morning light, amidst the trees. Atleast, that is how I picture it.

The sound of Sylvaine is deeply melancholic, regardless if its a single piano playing or a barrage of guitars. The songs build up rather gently, offering a glance into the unknown at first, before rising up and fully overwhelming you as a listener. The dreamy voice of Sylvaine lures you into the mist, into the swampland. Throw in some comparisons, like Sinead O’Connor‘s rendition of ‘The Foggy Dew’ or maybe even Sigur Rós, it is all in there.

photo by Andy Julia – © Sylvaine

Once there, the heavier sounds start. Even wild schrieks can be heard on ‘Earthbound’, never follow the faeries… They’ll lure you to the waters and the wild, but what for?  Interesting fact, on this album the multi-instrumentalist gets help from Stéphane ‘Neige’ Paut (Alcest), which might have a more significant impact than you’d think. Shoegaze is a term that doesn’t fit anymore for music like this, it moves on to something between ambient, black metal and folk with a hint of doom. Doomgaze just feels too hip sounding.

The listener of this album will feel as if lost in the mist, trying to grasp at the essenence of Sylvaine’s music, but never fully reaching it. You feel confused, lost, introspective even and weary by the end. It’s so dense with atmospheric elements that sometimes the fog just too overwhelming. The rare part where you get some direct contact with the vocals, is like a sunray piercing the roof of leaves and illuminating for a brief moment the shining truth, the angelic voice and those moments alone make this album such a mesmerizing experience.