With such a long album name, one would think elements of an experimental nature would likely be found within; and about Le Loup‘s The Throne Of The Third Heaven Of The Nations’ Millennium General Assembly one would be correct in that assumption. Actually, The Throne is a concept album largely inspired by Dante’s Inferno. “Canto I” and “Canto XXXVI” take their names from the first and last chapters of the book. The album marks the second release for Hardly Art.
Le Loup, like previous Hardly Art band Arthur & Yu, have put together a unique folk sound. But where Hardly Art’s debut artist conjures 60s and 70s psychedelic sounds and Summer of Love, Le Loup’s folk delves into the experimental and electronic realm.
Band leader Sam Simkoff takes the role as the head vocalist, leading his eight person group on keyboards and banjo. With several vocalists and instruments ranging from laptop to French horn, Le Loup’s sound is one of a kind. Opening track “Canto I” finds Simkoff on banjo, spouting out poetry before opening the album up with “Planes Like Vultures.” The track begins with a minute of harmony a capella vocals, then adds layers of percussion and keys, generating a dreamlike, meditative calm for the listener.
Le Loup shines in “Outside Of This Car, The End Of The World!” as Simkoff takes the lead vocals and various others counter him with different lyrics. “To The Stars! To The Night!” provides a return to folk with banjo setting the tune for the first few minutes. The song provides a glimpse into Simkoff’s psyche—we see a man that has struggled with demons but is working diligently to reach a better place: To the night / To my wild and fearful feral ones: Begone! Begone, and belong to distant yellow suns!
“(Storm)” takes the clapping, rolling thunders and downpour of rain—with vast imagery of darkened skies—digitizing elements, breaking at the end for “We Are Gods! We Are Wolves!”, beginning with The storm passed overheard, scratched our world to shreds. Close enough to hold our airs’ attention, and turn the air yellow for hours, as members of the band chant Give your soul to us / Give your heart to us. The imagery throughout The Throne hovers between light and dark, the storm and the calm thereafter, good and evil.
Where bands like Page France alter perception of deity and spiritualism, Le Loup takes it in a different element—the battling of good and evil. Triumphant is the one that can come to terms with the darkness, understand the demons while standing at the cusp of the storm and turn away before being swallowed into the abyss: Look! To the west! What colors grow there! There, where bells and swells and storms gather. The album concludes with “I Had A Dream I Died”. Le Loup continually repeats This is the end over and over.
Simkoff’s songwriting style is unlike virtually any other. It’s not necessarily poetry and not necessarily rambling script; it’s something that contains elements of both, yet defies their bounded definitions. (Then again, can rambling script be held to a definition?) Furthermore, the constant inclusion of punctuation completely alters how one would generally piece together lyrics. All these elements contribute to the creative outlet Simkoff has developed for The Throne which, when looked at up close, radiates in brilliance. Read: the more you listen to this album and the deeper you get into the framework of the lyrics and the layers of instrumentation, The Throne Of The Third Heaven Of The Nations’ Millennium General Assembly will inevitably garner a great deal of respect.
This review was originally published November 5, 2007 on the old version of FensePost. Above photo by Fense at CMJ 2007. This week Le Loup launched a new website.
Le Loup: We Are Gods! We Are Wolves! [mp3]
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Hardly Art [CD, 2007]
1. Canto I
2. Planes Like Vultures
3. Outside Of This Car, The End Of The World!
4. To The Stars! To The Night!
6. We Are Gods! We Are Wolves!
7. Breathing Rapture
8. Look To The West.
10. Le Loup (Fear Not)
11. Canto XXXIV
12. I Had A Dream I Died.