First, a quote from the biography: "Born in Bordeaux, France, two years ago, Farewell is a nu-classical one-man-band ruled by JB Calluaud (half of April (the band, not the month), owner of Hesat Recordings studios) with the aim to create a sonic universe between symphonic music, lyrical voices and modern music". That being said I can now claim that this is by far one of the most estranging albums I had to review for this magazine. In no way it compares to the albums we previously wrote about, except maybe for some ambient releases. 'Living Ends' actually sounds more like Olafur Arnalds meets Radiohead, or even Anathema, while a symphonic orchestra is rehearsing their next opera in a badly isolated room next door. Which is not bad by the way, not bad at all...
The most surprising aspect on this album is its diversity. 'Hails' start off with piano and vocals and follows a folk-like path. Title track' Living Ends' suddenly gets very heavy, somewhere between alternative rock and post-rock. 'Dancers' drives on an electronic rhythm (IDM) and is filled with strings. These are only the first three of ten tracks on this album. What follows is in no way less different. 'Epitaph' is almost an opera aria, reminiscent of the music from The Fifth Element, and 'Thirteen' is a very dark piano-driven ballad that suddenly turns into a gothic metal tune.
The enormous amount of variation on this album can be a bit hard to bare for some listeners but somehow Farewell succeeds in bringing al these genres together in a sonic journey through the artist's mind. I have no idea whether he worked with analog instruments or guest musicians and samples (is that Steven Hawking at the end of 'Sicarius'?). Sometimes I doubt that because some of the classical elements sound a little artificial. But even then, this is a remarkable album where excellent songwriting alternates with dramatic passages.
Even if most of the sounds have been generated digitally, Farewell has had a lot of experience with the software because what he creates is often very close to popular classical music. 'Soleil Rouge' for example is a stunning piece of classical music and opera, very dramatic and yet so fragile. Want more? Well, there's even an industrial touch in 'The Killing Hours', a song that also can be classified as a trip-hop song. It's almost like listening to a compilation album, or a soundtrack for an epic horror movie.
There's some little edges that might have to be cleared away. Maybe the quality of some of the vocals could be better and some experimental passages might be a bit too weird. Yet, in all honesty I have to say that this is an album from an artist that I can respect. He is willing to cross borders and shift between genres that usually do not combine very good. He uses whatever instrument or software he has to in order to create something that comes from deep within his mind and soul. I hope this project will continue this path. If so, he will probably come up with more truly amazing stuff in the future.