Coming up to two years ago almost, “Here Comes The Sun” by Poitiers based, French six piece Klone came through my letterbox, and I’ll be honest, it was a tough nut to crack musically and even tougher to review but after embracing the vast sonic landscape contained within the world of the album, trudging through the highly atmospheric and emotionally charged tracks, it really grown on me to the point where it was one of the outsiders which sadly didn’t make the cut for my final selection of the obligatory top 20 albums of 2015 feature we here at Ave Noctum did.
That isn’t to say that this release will make amends and feature this (currently) progressive rock six piece in the 2017 equivalent, but honestly, before even talking about the music in general, between you and me… It might put it in good standing to be in the business end of my list if it stands tall by the end of this year!
If I were to describe this to the best of my ability without referencing what the music actually sounds like, I would simply direct you to the “MTV Unplugged” sessions and then point out the Alice In Chains release, arguably one of the finest acoustic albums ever released… Yes, I hold this album up to that masterpiece. It may not be in the same league, but it certainly has that feel to it in the way of the emotional impact and musical reimagining of the tracks so they retained that familiarity their studio albums possessed but had that freshness and originality resulting from the careful re-crafting of the songs.
A mixture of the 2015 release “Here Comes The Sun” and the 2012 release “The Dreamer’s Hideaway”, along with a Depeche Mode cover (People Are People) and a new track, this release really works and stands out on so many levels. Recorded live in the iconic Parisian venue; ‘Théâtre de la Coupe d’Or de Rochefort‘, the sound and acoustics of the recording are phenomenal. Layering’s of acoustic guitars, accordion use to simulate the effect of a string ensemble, piano lines, subtle percussion moments and most importantly, the distinctive and powerful vocal delivery, “Unplugged” really does breathe new life into the tracks performed.
“Immersion” opens the recording and straight away, it feels far more atmospheric than the more familiar version of this song. The minimalistic approach in terms of delivery which was created by the entire rebuilding of the track works wonderfully. The music has a more haunting edge which seems to augment the ringing guitar arpeggios and passionate vocals, and this trend resurfaces along the whole album. The hypnotic feel from the accordion and intelligent use of musical space helps those important notes stand out, it helps those last vocals to linger where appropriate and it helps the strumming of the guitars compensate for the lack of distortion by being the most prominent thing after the vocals.
Granted, tracks like “Nebulous” and “Fog” still retain their dark and melancholic aura, it is just expressed differently here… In a more raw capacity I guess would be the best way to describe it. Even the closing track “Summertime” retains its original edge, this being a dramatic and building feel throughout the song to rise and peak for a grandiose and heavy hitting finale, but personally for me, it is where the tracks have been reborn where the most attention needs to be placed, and with that being said, “Gone Up In Flames” certainly does that. Stealing the spotlight, this brisk paced number was one of the stand out moments from the 2015 release, but hearing this arrangement of it has made me wonder whether this is the true reflection of the track and how it should actually sound. The brisk strumming, intricate passages in the verse, tight and emotionally charged vocals and the way it comes to life for the chorus, kicking it up a gear or two in the presence it has all points towards a song which sounds equally as good with the distortion on as it does with the distortion off!
On the whole, “Unplugged” is just that. It is pure acoustic music performed the way it should be – as an alternative to the widely accepted ‘standard’ version. Sure, some bands go unimaginative and simply replicate the song but without distortion coating it’s guitars and whilst it can be interesting, it lacks a certain life to it. Rebuilding an entire song though from the ground up, re-imagining it for a new method of playing whilst striving to retain the sense of recognition and familiarity, but balancing it with the need for new, innovative and fresh sounds, that is the entire point of what acoustic versions of songs should be, and Klone have done this here. A fantastic audio experience!