Collection d`Arnell Andrea – Villers-aux-Vents

Collection d`Arnell Andrea has been among my favourite groups for quite a while. This French ensemble was founded by Jean-Christophe d’Arnell and Chloé St Liphard in 1986. Their music is a mixture of classical influences, cold wave, rock and heavenly voices. Often their songs have a very melancholic mood. Last year they delivered the magnificent “Tristesse des manes”, an album full of romantic chamber music, half with new songs, half with older material given a ‘classical’ treatment.
Now “Prikosnovénie” has reissued one of their most acclaimed albums, “Villers-aux-Vents”, their fifth, which wasn’t available for years. It’s a conceptual album about the first World war, the subtitle is ‘Février 1916’. On the cover you see images of the battlefield and the destructive tranches. This reissue comes in a nice digipack, with the mostly French lyrics printed on the inside.

On this album Collection plays a mixture of darkwave and rock, with a relatively high tempo, with a few songs that are more classical inspired. Some have their typical ‘going round’ feel, like you are trapped in the whirling of a maelstrom. On top of the robust music you hear the typical clear voice of Chloé St Liphard, sounding tragic, sad or scared. Some of the highlights are the tragic ‘Le Chemin des Dames’ (Walking to the frontline / Over sludge and marshes / Over dewy… / Graves…), the romantic ‘Les hauts de Meuse’ or the energetic ‘Deafening breath’.

War is certainly not glorified, but these songs are also not only about sorrow. It’s also about people surviving the most difficult times. A strong album, that deserves to be available again. There are two bonuses present: an extra remix of the first track ‘Les Cenre-Lisières’, with heavy guitars and powerful beats. Perhaps sounding more modern and dynamic, but a bit out of place and no reason to buy this reissue if you own the original. Further you get a multimedia-file which you can watch on your computer. It contains various (live) photos of the band and, more interesting, two clips of songs performed live: especially ‘Deafening breath’ is a highlight of this reissue, a strong rendition, performed by the band against the background of grim war movie images. Furthermore you get a more vague black & white clip of ‘Verdun’.

artist: Collection d`Arnell Andrea
label: Prikosnovénie
details: 11 tracks. [PRIK070]