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Mediavolo - Unaltered Empire
Wednesday, July 01 2009 @ 03:00 AM PDT
Contributed by: Sage

Unaltered Empire

Artist: Mediavolo France

Title: Unaltered Empire

Label: Prikosnovenie France

Genre:  Ethereal / New Wave / Dark Rock

01 Treasure Box
02 Dry and Brave
03 Cavalry Drum
04 Dr. Quayle
05 Unaltered Empire
06 Black Roses
07 Selling Birds
08 The Backroom of my Mind
09 To the Eye
10 Fanciest Scheme

Unaltered Empire is the third full-length offering from this unique French duo.  Their first album, Soleil Sans Retour , saw release on France's Saravah label.  At this time the band was a five-piece effort, but didn't remain that way for long.  Soon, it would be only Géraldine le Cocq and Jacques Henry, and at that discretion, it doesn't appear that it has made much difference as the music is still as full and thick as ever, portraying Prikosnovenie's signature 'faery' sound along with new wave, shoegaze, heavenly voices, and some slight progressive elements as well.  The second album would shortly follow on short-lived Kalinkaland sublabel Zeitkristall Music.  Apart from the music, the artwork for this release in particular caught eyes with the gloomy-site of a wind-swept scarecrow surrounded by tiny candle lights.  A beautiful yet dreary site, which did so much to express the music on the album, as moving as it is.

The band's third release saw them finally brought to the wonderful French Prikosnovenie where influences can be heard all over the spectrum of new wave and rock, from the obvious reference of Cocteau Twins to even, perhaps, Radiohead.  The vocals in particular will remind of the fantastic Misstrip release on Prikosnovenie last year, though this album is much more situated in the moving classical, dramatic texture than the trip hop vein.  Though full of desperation and solitude, Mediavolo do not fall prey to the mediocrity and subtle layers of sound that often envelope the genre, but rather burst out full of color and an array of lights with their full and thick production and lack of fear towards utilizing heavy amounts of instrumentation.  Rather than simple layers of the usual ethereal guitars with long held out notes, Jacques prefers utilizing moving melodic lines with the same effect, and paired with the strength of the moving bass lines, it makes for a unique prog feel in the ethereal genre but also gives the music a kind of a trip hop character though there aren't many electronic elements here.

Maybe there's a good amount of friction and fusion here.  I wouldn't go so far as to describe this music as schizophrenic as it all seems textured quite the same, but its the strange co-existence of the usual vocal style of ethereal with the complex musical compositions.  That doesn't go to say that the vocal segments aren't complex in their own right, as  Géraldine certainly puts on quite a show, not only with her birthed talent, but also the incredible way that they've produced this release to include self-harmonies in key segments, a sound that is becoming signature to the French scene in particular these days, especially amongst Prikosnovenie artists.  Lyrically, the album is another strong personal journey by the lyricist, but I believe Unaltered Empire goes to tell of the all too human search.  Not the search for anything in particular, just the fact that we're always looking for something more, something greater than ourselves.  This has been present throughout history and its never going to change, its a common bond that we all share.  Looking to the sky, looking to the Earth, looking within ourselves, that search is constant.  Mediavolo's third effort shows a mature sound and production as well as well-written stories lyrically, and as with most releases on this wonderful label, would deserve the support of any ethereal fan.  Look out for a new release from these guys in 2009 on Russia's Intuition Records!


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