If you're one of those melancholy souls who find that grey days are never grey enough and Radiohead are too upbeat, Sebastien Schuller's second album is just for you. The ten dark, brooding masterpieces on Evenfall make the ideal soundtrack for our 'doom and gloom' times.
Rarely has an album cover been so evocative of its content! How best to sum up the weird and wonderful soundscape of Evenfall than this surreal juxtaposition of misty dawn, sulky-faced child with random bird on head and a couple of tutu-clad ballerinas dancing through water?
Sebastien Schuller, who emerged on the French indie scene in 2002 with a four-track electro-pop EP, has carved out a unique place for himself exploring the links between music and melancholy. Evenfall is less markedly electro than Schuller's first full-length album, Happiness, but continues to mine a rich vein of ethereal vocals and luminous keyboards. On this second offering, the classically-trained musician proves himself to be a master of finely-honed melody and adroit pacing, alternating haunting drawn-out tracks such as Awakening with more up-tempo songs such as Balancoire.
Schuller, who has written the occasional film soundtrack (for Franck Guerin's Un jour d'ete, for instance), is brilliant at conjuring up atmosphere and you can feel the hours he spent in the studio honing his sound to absolute perfection. The Parisian may have come to singing relatively late in the day, but his plaintive vocals come into their own on Evenfall, adding to the album's seductive 'noir' tones.
The Border, one of the stand-out tracks on Evenfall, is a lesson in mournful ballad-writing with subtle hints of grandiloquence behind its minor-key chords. And herein lies the essential miracle of Evenfall: Schuller's melancholy turns out to be strangely compelling, even soothing at times.