ALTESIA is the brainchild of French multi-instrumentalist Clément Darrieu, based in Bordeaux. Passionate about music since his childhood, he founded this solo project in 2017 and two years later, the first album was written. Alexis Casanova, Antoine Pirog (PARADOXY CALL), Yann Ménage (UNICORN BLASTER), and Henri Bordillon (WATT SPIRIT) joined the band to record the debut and play live shows. On 11 December 2019, “Paragon Circus” was released and even though I discovered it only this February, I’m glad I found this opus for my listening pleasure.
“Paragon Circus” has an overall playing time of 57 minutes. The six tracks deal with a man’s self-destruction in modern society by giving a bleak overview of a world he created and from which he’s being trapped. Each song shines a light on several issues that drive the man towards his self-destruction, such as economic disparities, incessant wars, the absence of happiness, or the shallowness of people’s reason. The expression “Paragon Circus” describes the circus that mankind has designed and erected as a model, a model from which we can’t escape.
Musically, ALTESIA sail between the genres, from progressive rock to progressive metal, disseminating jazz, funk, or even little death metal hints. The unity between the different musicians is awesome, but each instrument gets its special moments as well, when they step forward for a solo part. The appearance of saxophone or violin makes things even more interesting, as they always merge smoothly into the overall context. You’ll find some awesome virtuoso guitar playing on “Paragon Circus.”
ALTESIA take their time to develop a spellbinding atmosphere. “Pandora” is a short intro, followed by “Reminiscence,” a track nearly twelve minutes in length, of which the first four are instrumental – very confident for a debut, but this beginning will warm the prog-lover’s heart. “Amidst the smoke” starts a bit heavier, then changes moods with beautiful polyphonic vocals. Clément has an amazing sense for melodies and combines them with great harmonies and rhythms.
“The prison child” lifts up the pace again. During the lockdown, the band published a playthrough video for this song, but changed the title to “The confined child,” as this was very fitting for the situation. You can check the video out below.
“Hex reverse” begins with a few piano chords and beautiful vocals. Even though it is slower again, it holds the tension. “Cassandra’s prophecy” is the longest track on “Paragon Circus.” ALTESIA continue with their formula and deliver a great finale. Again, they drift through several moods, the rhythm changes, and the different instrumentation fits well together.
With “Paragon Circus,” ALTESIA have released a mesmerizing debut album. The musical flow is impressive thanks to the great songwriting and it’s one of those albums you enjoy better as a whole (even though the songs work on their own). The beautiful harmonies and melodies have a certain melancholy and invite the listener to drift away for a moment. Nevertheless, the varied rhythmic and use of different instruments keep the music very interesting, worthy of letting it grow over several spins.
Written by Katha
- Amidst the smoke
- The prison child
- Hex reverse
- Cassandra’s prophecy
Clément Darrieu – Vocals, Guitar
Alexis Casanova – Guitar
Antoine Pirog – Bass
Yann Ménage – Drums
Henri Bordillon – Keyboards, Piano
Julien Deforges – Saxophone on “Reminiscence”
Thibault Malon – Violin on “The prison child” and “Cassandra’s prophecy”
Esteban Sainz – Growls on “Hex reverse” and “Cassandra’s prophecy”
Interview Phantom Elite – “It’s always good to share that feeling that none of us is alone in hard times”