O Quam Tristis – Méditations ultimes

This is the third album by O Quam Tristis. I find it impressive to hear how the band improves with each album. Both musically and in song writing the band has grown a lot since the first album.
What is the most remarkable about Méditations Ultimes is the use of atypical electronic rhythms in the music. These rhythms are not dance beats like most of the time with Qntal, nor standard rhythm structures to accompany typical medieval gothic tunes like Helium Vola. O Quam Tristis makes use of some original and surprising rhythms like in ‘Non Eripit Mortalia’, ‘Quoniam Tu Solus’ and ‘Creator’.
Besides that, the medieval music which the band plays on top of this, sounds more authentic and pure then most bands in the gothic scene will ever sound.
Méditations Ultimes is an excellent accomplishment and O Quam Tristis is a promise for the future.

The third album of French neo-medievalists O Quam Tristis is a convincing one. I do not know their previous album “Le Rituel Sacré” very well, but compared to their debut they have clearly made a considerable step forwards. Especially in the melodic qualities of the compositions O Quam Tristis have clearly improved.

The traditional medieval structures sound convincing, while the modern electronic elements fit in nicely, a combination which we know from bands like Qntal. One of the most attractive features of the band is the harmonic combination of ‘earthy’ male vocals and ethereal female voices, in a somewhat comparable manner as for instance Love is Colder than Death. All songs have (liturgical) lyrics in Latin by the way.

The musical spectrum of this album is quite varied by the way, from tranquil acoustic songs to dark gothic hymns to uptempo ‘crossover’ tracks. The electronic elements are combined with traditional instruments like bagpipes, flutes, dulcimer and percussion. Some of the more striking pieces are Ó langueo’, the sensual ‘Confiteur’ and the nice choral chanting of ‘Ad esse internum’. The absolute hit is ‘Terrae’, with an addictive beat, a wavy keyboard sound and a catchy refrain. It reminds me a bit of some material by Argine.

Méditations Ultimes is certainly a recommended album, though perhaps not for medieval purists.

artist: O Quam Tristis
label: Palace of Worms
details: 15 tracks, 2005 [Po21w-2]