Back in 2016 I was introduced to a project by a multi-instrumentalist under the moniker of Sylvaine from Norway. I came across her newest album “Wistful” back then and I was just blown away about how dreamy, ethereal, and raw the music was. It was my first ever review for my blog and one of the catalysts to what made me want to start blogging about the underground music industry to begin with. Since that time in May of 2016 (the same month “Wistful” came out) I have been keeping up with my blog as best I could, and it has turned out to be such a beautiful and satisfying success in my professional/personal life. Being able to write down my thoughts and feelings about music that moves me is such a gift and I am glad all you readers who have found my work enjoy reading it too. And here we are 2/22/2022 on a Tuesday and I was graciously given Sylvaine’s newest opus “Nova” from Seasons of Mist to review for you all. As a disclaimer I did not get around to reviewing “Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone” back in 2018 because life got in the way at that time. My feelings on that album are just as positive as “Wistful” and it is a beautiful work across the board, and in my opinion an even darker album in many ways. Though, I will have to say that “Nova” has exceeded all my expectations yet again and I would call it maybe an even darker work than “Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone”.
I find it very appropriate that the new album came out and was written during the height of the pandemic. For me it was a very painful, and strenuous time in my own life, and from hearing “Nova” it sounds like it was also a very difficult time in Sylvaine’s life too. There is a raw, vulnerable, and very introspective tone in every single song. I could feel the pain, the longing, and the hope in waves as the album progressed. These past two years have been an age of difficult transitions and thinking about the concepts of mortality every day. The pandemic brought death, divorces, break-ups, layoffs, and every other bad thing about life in-between. Though during this dark time there was an enlightenment that was found in those dank caves each passing day. I would say the sonic journey “Nova” puts the listener through hits all these concepts in big and small ways. There is a real sense of finding self in the first song “Nova” and as the album progresses you are introduced to a multitude of emotions and journeys of the inner psyche of Sylvaine. If I could think of the proper words, it would be memories, anger, melancholia, shock, ends, beginnings, and the dreams/nightmares that come when you go through a painful transition in your life. In the end after all the pain one has been through is a feeling of recovery, healing, and seeing the world (as well as your existence) in a new light as you will hear in the final song “Everything Must Come To An End”.
As for the middle of the album there are so many different and intriguing ideas happening throughout “Nova” there is a lot of heavy songs with straight up black metal coldness abound especially in “Mono No Aware”, “Fortapt”, and “I Close My Eyes So I Can See” but there is that ever-distinct warmth and beauty sprinkled throughout these songs that makes Sylvaine’s work so unique and interesting to hear. I would probably say “Nowhere, Still Somewhere” is the most straightforward goth rock/shoegaze song I have heard in her discography I would say the song is a beautiful combo of Type O Negative meets My Bloody Valentine and I think it shows the growth and maturity of Sylvaine’s songwriting chops. The vocals are stellar, and the screams are some of the coldest and most spine-chilling I have heard in a while. The music itself is tight, epic, meandering and very dreamlike. The standout instrument to me are the drums by Dorian Mansiaux they are very powerful, heavy and reminds me a lot of Aaron Weaver’s drum work in Wolves in the Throne Room. There are quiet introspective moments in the songs that lead to loud heavy and aggressive moments which makes “Nova” very engaging to listen to.
Overall, I will say that “Nova” is a brilliant and beautiful piece of music that needs to be heard repeatedly. It will take you through an internal journey of self. The highs, and lows of life and the memories that come with it will be a common feeling as you listen deeper and deeper to the sonic catharsis of “Nova”. There is an obvious shift in song-writing maturity in the album and it is absolutely required listening if you are having a bad day or been going through traumatic transition in your life. There is genuine sense of relatability and understanding in Sylvaine’s works over the years and I feel her newest album lets these concepts shine a brighter light. The human condition and its follies are very prominent in “Nova”, and I think it gives a greater, and more universal understanding of how to navigate these rough waters to find the lighthouse and land at the end where you can finally rest.
Sylvaine’s new album “Nova” releases on March 4th 2022!
Official Page: www.sylvainemusic.com