07 July 2010

Acetate Zero - civilize the satanists (2008, Arbouse)

Two years ago, Elsa Diot, one of the five members of this french band released her first solo ep under the Monovalley alias. An impressive short collection of songs much more intimate and emotional than the production of Acetate Zero.

If their was an aura of mystery around Acetate Zero, the “Deception Island” ep came with a few responses and new questions, new promises. On this new album, and with ten years of existence, Acetate Zero quietened their shoegaze and noisy guitar exploration, added more focus on the ethereal atmospheres, using monotony and contemplation as a way to translate autumnal melancholy.

Listening to their music, I sometimes think about The Pale Saints, Gregor Samsa, Flying Saucer Attack or diluted versions of Auburn Lull, L'Altra and Bedhead. I say diluted because it's more ghosts of songs than precise structures behind their compositions. “Civilize the satanists” floats in the fog, like a camera you cannot get a clear image with, only blurred impressions of colors and lights and sometimes color saturation through guitar distortion.

What I prefer in this album is when they explore this strange country that potentially exists between the bucolic side of Hood and the shyness and innocence of some Bedhead compositions, when the voice is part of the game as a culmination.

12 songs for 54 minutes, “Civilize the satanists” is a long and cohesive album even if no clear structure or progression will permeate through the order. Some of the songs are pleasant but seem to never reach the level of emotion or subtlety expected: “Definition of fall”, “Wooden Ride” and “Iceclap Decline”, the three opening songs leave you somewhat unsatisfied.

Serious things start with “Sure to vanish”, a tempestuous haunted song, with Elsa and Fabrice sharing vocals, between tension and fever, restraint and a slow noisy shoegazer release. The short “Sulfur” (1:30) sounds very much like a stripped Monovalley song, bass, guitar and Elsa's intimate vocals.

After the long interlude “Endless equation”, they return to beauty with the pensive and moving “ Desert fields on fire” with once again Elsa Diot as the main element of sublimation. This is the kind of atmosphere that will deeply appease you and almost break your heart, strangely, even if it is very different, it reminds me of the grace of the American Football album (especially of their song “But the regrets are killing me”). Something special happens here.

Another interlude later, “We Created Something We Want To Destroy”, we have another instrumental, but more dreamy and inviting, “Freak wave”, even if not really indispensable. At least Elsa is back on “Vanity Mirror” a gentle and previsible indie pop song retro-shoegaze. They only return to brilliance with the marvelous “One To Count Cadence”, slow, minimal, nodding, optimistic and dreamy.

After the very good surprise of the Monovalley ep, maybe I was waiting too much from Acetate Zero. “Civilize the Satanists” is a correct album, with four great songs on it and it's already a good thing. There will be a few reasons to return to this album and my faith towards the future productions of these French musicians is intact.


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