Life at times is a balance of dark and light, especially in recent times; a journey where shadows court every joy and hope beckons from within torment. Experiences vary from moment to moment, person to person but it is a parity which never settles and it is that unstable union which is embraced and revealed in its ravenous extreme by Messe Basse, the new album from French trio Nature Morte.
Merging black metal, shoegaze and post-rock for their own individual tempest, the trio of bassist/vocalist Chris Richard, guitarist Stevan Vasiljevic and drummer Vincent Bemer take the senses from the safety of light to the most crippling realms of darkest, those that devour body and emotion. It is a sound which makes for an uneasy and unsettling experience and within Messe Basse, a nihilistic and debilitating consumption which leaves a lingering trespass. Yet despite the torturous exploration fascination drove attention and enjoyment on, the deceit of light and beauty aligned to the ruinous turbulence of pain and turmoil proving a riveting if physically and emotionally disturbing ordeal.
The band’s blackgaze uniqueness is instantly compelling as album opener Only Shallowness shimmers into view. From its crepuscular breath an enticing melody lures ears, Vasiljevic’s guitar a warm beckon into the swiftly enveloping pestilential embrace of the album’s Tartarean domain. It is an incitement which is echoed within most tracks, warm beauty and radiant elegance the enticement into the true heinous nightmare of life. Richard’s vocals are a throat scathing invasion every time, an infernal narrative to the sonic intimation driven and mercurially shaped by Bemer’s rhythmic craft. Subsequent twists and turns only escalate the tempest and the compelling lure of the track and subsequently release as each of its track overwhelms.
White Goat, Dark Hoof similarly mesmerised before it devoured, a sublime melody coaxing thoughts and the darker but similarly calm reflection of drums and bass that soon join it before a breach in the falsehood brings another tide of sonic annihilation. Again though, that initial beauty continues and seeps into the ruin, open enterprise and craft shaping the tumult as once more fascination swept attention.
From its haunting beginnings Knife seduced and vanquished, that ethereal grace continuing to enchant even as a sonic and emotive storm prevailed while T.S.O.C, rich in intrigue and dark intimation, prowled and stalked the psyche. Like a siren it lured with beauty, its call magnetic if foreboding and melodic prowess irresistible if again bound in deceit and antipathy as sonic rancor rises. The track is superb sharing favourite moment with Night’s Silence and its corrosive squall within a beguiling horizon of hope, if one of falsehood; the pair sandwiching the chilling and fearsomely alluring entrapment and savage violation of Beautiful Loss.
The album’s title track completes the journey through sonic purgatory, emerging from a stinging mist upon melodic vines woven with ever unsettling suggestion. As demons become more unsettled and the darkness closes in, still Vasiljevic’s guitar weaves strands of tenebrific elegance; the instrumental the album’s most seductive yet most disturbing incursion on the senses and psyche to join the major highlights of Messe Basse.
It is a scarring and deep unsettling experience but as epitomised by its final confrontation, Messe Basse is deeply fascinating and increasingly compelling and waiting for the brave and troubled to embrace.
Messe Basse is out now via Source Atone Records; available @ https://ntrmrt.bandcamp.com/
Pete RingMaster 22/05/2021
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