The Alps: Le Voyage
Type Recordings

Le Voyage, The Alps' fourth album, is quite literally a journey in the sense that each of its pieces offers a different stylistic stopping point, which naturally makes the album feel like a ten-episode travelogue. Interspersed with short noise pieces and tape experiments (such as “Marzipan,” a trippy collage of classical strings, poured water, and other noises, and “The Lemon Tree,” a Pink Floyd-esque kaleidoscope of fleeting impressions), the album otherwise hews to a fairly straightforward script as it shifts its attention from one style to another.

As inviting an introduction as its welcoming title intimates, “Drop In” starts the album on a plaintive and bucolic note with bright acoustic picking, piano sprinkles, and an occasional atmospheric shudder of electric guitar. While “Crossing the Sands” opts for Tortoise-styled post-rock rhythmning and wah-wah guitar psychedelia, “St. Laurent” serves up a laid-back acoustic setting one could imagine as the soundtrack for lazy beachside lolling. A trippy dimension comes strongly to the fore in many tracks, including “Saturno Contro,” whose placid drift of shimmering guitars precedes the sitar-fueled entrancement of “Black Mountain.” Not surprisingly, the album's deepest plunge into astral travel occurs during the ten-minute soundscape “Le Voyage.”

The follow-up that Jefre Cantu-Ledesma (Tarentel), Alexis Georgopoulos (ARP), and Scott Hewicker (Troll) have crafted to the well-received III is refreshingly succinct—its forty-one minutes of sun-drenched folk-psychedelia flash by quickly—and is well-pitched on ambition grounds too, with the group's aim high but not so high that the material begins to feel overburdened or weighted down by pomposity.

June 2010