Haunting, illuminating, and larger than life. If I was able to review an album in so few words, then that is exactly what I would have to say about the stellar Luminance by French post-metal outfit Përl. However, it is generally considered poor journalism to write a review consisting of only six words, so prepare yourselves for six hundred or so words of me gushing over the brilliance of this album.
Luminance is the second full-length release from the Parisian trio, who have been playing as a band for almost a decade. The album plays like a chaotic storm of different musical styles battling for dominance, with each song altering its musical style several times throughout. This is by no means a negative however, as it goes to show that the group are not afraid to express themselves through different musical methods, and certainly do not shy away from experimentation. The aggressive nature of the album proves that it could not be for everyone’s taste, but for those who are willing to challenge their perspective of genre, musical normality, and conformity, then they shall truly be rewarded.
Perhaps the track which best defines the turbulent nature of Luminance is “Séléné”, a song which opens with a haunting wall of sound not dissimilar to the likes of Lifelover. The heavy amounts of reverb on both the guitar and the vocals from singer Aline create a feeling as if you are listening from a distance, though the continual drumming and ever-present bass notes create a wave-like feeling where you feel almost completely surrounded by the music.
Aline’s beautifully melancholic vocals are nothing short of stunning, as each note sung lands perfectly on key. This perhaps acts as a way of lulling listeners into a false sense of security, leaving them to imagine a track that, whilst feeling haunting to listen to, does not stray far from social norms. Such is not the case as, after a brief pause in the track, Aline lets loose a barrage of screamed, angry, and borderline unsettling vocals, which contrast to the eerily positive-sounding major-key melody laid down by the rest of the band. Such a spin on the listener is nothing short of brilliant; a left turn in the face of music.
Therein lies the true purpose of Luminance; an album deliberately created to act as a counter to conventional music. A shake-up which forces listeners to constantly evaluate what they are listening to and, perhaps more importantly, actually make them listen to the music being played. Përl must clearly have been conscious of straying too far in to the experimental, post-metal field, as within the vastly challenging and enlightening soundscapes created by the band, there are a smattering of more traditional musical elements; brief melodies which end on a closed loop, beginning and finishing within seconds, ultimately creating small moments of respite within an otherwise abstract album.
Do not go gently into this album, as it will not do the same for you. Allow yourself to become overwhelmed by the defiantly aggressive nature of this album, let the changing melodies wash over you and take control. Think about the music you are hearing and, perhaps more importantly in this instance, what you are not. Përl have created one of the most thought-provoking pieces of post-music that I have heard in a long time, and would thoroughly recommend to any who are willing to question what musical normality is.
Luminance is not for those who want a bit of light listening, nor is it for those who do not want to be challenged. If you would rather have your musical sensibilities unchecked and to remain content in a field of comfortable and familiar sounds, then do not listen to this album. If, however, you are willing to open your mind, and allow yourself to new opportunities, then Luminance is a must.
Luminance is out now and available to buy on Bandcamp.