Klone spread their wings

The opposite picture, which graces the cover of Klone’s new opus, The Dreamer’s Hideaway, is rather fitting. It shows a man carried by his arms in a most surreal way by a seagull, an animal flying over oceans and symbolizing freedom better than any other. Following this example, Klone – who now count four albums in their discography, if you don’t count an extra EP – seem to be spreading their wings and taking flight.

In this instance, flight rhymes with freedom – a notion Klone, and more particularly the band’s guitarist Guillaume Bernard, seem to hold extremely dear. The proof of that is the collective – and now label – the guitarist founded, Klonosphere, and which now cares for some of the most promising bands of the French metal scene (including Trepalium and Hacride, as well as Klone themselves). The collective allows musicians to have maximum control over their bands, their music and their promotion, by limiting their dependence to sometimes untrustworthy or unconcerned intermediaries. Therefore, it’s not surprising that this desire for freedom should be the main theme behind Klone’s creations. The band’s music is rather difficult to define; “progressive” is probably the best suited word. But locking themselves within a specific genre is the last thing on the quintet’s mind, since they find inspiration in many of them. That’s precisely what makes the band’s worth today.

Klone have already proved their worth in the past, most notable on their second album, All Seeing Eye, where the band juggled with different styles. In this respect, some might have found the album disjointed and difficult to grasp, despite a personality that had been asserted ever since the first record. By comparison, Black Days fell down through excessive homogeneity.

The maturity and experience acquired through the making of the previous albums have left a mark on the compositions found on The Dreamer’s Hideaway, which is all at once rich and well balanced. The production of the album was also a matter of experience, since the band tackled it with the will to erase the regrets Black Days generated. And they did achieve their aim, with a dense and powerful production that managed to capture both instruments and playing skills with the greatest natural. Compared to the four songs we had the opportunity to listen to back in July, it is clear the album has gained new subtleties through the care with which the arrangements were mixed.

Taking flight also means travelling. The tone is set from the very beginning, with the first track, “Rocket Smoke”, which grabs hold of the listener and gives a feeling of propulsion. This first song also introduces the new A-tuning the band has used for a few compositions (including the eponymous track and “Rising”). This approach sprung from an objective way of looking at their previous records, as Guillaume pointed out, and which contributes in part to the variety Dreamer’s Hideaway has to offer. But this desire to bring change to their music doesn’t stop at a different tuning. The eponymous title is the best example of that. Cut in two, it is characterized by a first part dominated by sludge guitars that smack of Louisiana’s darkest swamps, and by a much brighter second part, supported mainly by Jean-Étienne Maillard’s groovy, elegant bass line, reminiscent of Pete Trewavas (Marillion) in Transatlantic. The above-mentioned arrangements also play a major part in the listener’s “sensual awakening”: one can discover new details with each new listening session, be it in the guitar arrangements, in the synthetic effects or in Matthieu Metzger’s great contribution on the saxophone, which blends in perfectly with the rest (the solo at the end of “The Dreamer’s Hideaway” will undoubtedly make many a sax fan happy).

The album being particularly dense and rich, Klone seem to have voluntarily organized a “break” in the middle, in the form of an ambient track called “Stratum”. For the two minutes of its duration, the listener’s attention can finally slacken. It’s clear that some will find this album quite difficult to grasp in one go, at least at first. Subsequent listening sessions will help familiarize the listener and define the numerous catching points a little better. “Stratum” can therefore appear as an insignificant detail, but it actually shows that nothing has been left to chance on this album.

One of the most striking elements in the first four tracks we heard last July was Yann Ligner’s vocals. The full album reveals the extent of his work even more. Those who lamented the absence of his “rawer” voice on Black Days will certainly be delighted. In order to vary dynamics and styles, Ligner did not hesitate to saturate his vocal chords at certain specific moments. It is the case on “Rocket Smoke”, or more largely on the rather dangerous “Rising”. On the latter, we would swear for a few seconds that we’ve just heard Joe Duplantier screaming (let’s not forget that the man had been invited to add his vocals on a song from All Seeing Eye). This is further proof that this album awakens the senses and creates a nice playground for imagination. Those who heard too much influence from Tool’s singer, James Maynard Keenan, in Yann Ligner’s performance on Black Days should revise their judgment.

And how could we forget to mention the warm contribution from Doug Pinnick, vocalist and bassist from Kings X (a band Klone have once shared a bill with)? The guest blends in beautifully with Klone’s music on “A Finger Snaps”, while bringing yet another texture to the whole thing.

Taking flight means finding freedom and travelling – but could it also mean Klone’s career is about to take off with this album? As we’ve mentioned earlier, nothing seems to have been left to chance, and Klone seem to have made exactly what they wanted to make, just the way they wanted to make it. But as we’ve also pointed out, the density of the music – even if the songs are not particularly long – makes the album very demanding. The listener must enjoy, or at least accept, to be a bit confused, at least at first. At any rate, given the effort that went into making this album, if it doesn’t help Klone reach another level, they probably never will – unless they change their approach completely and therefore, probably, betray themselves. For The Dreamer’s Hideaway sounds like the culmination of hard work.

The Dreamer’s Hideaway, released October 5th, 2012, via Klonosphere/Season Of Mist.

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