Track By Tracks: White Mare - Isle Of Bliss (2023)

I got the idea of calling this project White Mare, even before I had some proper demos/songs. I loved the pun on nightmare/white mare. Rather quickly I started to think about the lyrics for the songs and, as they turned out to be rather epic, I thought: why not turn to epic poetry? And as I used to be a student in archeology and ancient history, it was quite natural for me to turn to ancient Greek mythology and to the Odyssey in particular. It made perfect sense as the white mares are a metaphor for the waves and are the companions of Poseidon/Neptune, the god of sea and storms. But I didn’t want to quote or just retell the poem: I wanted to get some meaning of it and try to focus on how it applied to my own life, and it turned No Isle Of Bliss into a very personal album, with a kind of general concept, revolving about time and my fear of getting old.

1. No Isle Of Bliss:

The “catabasis”, or “descent into the underworld”, is a recurring pattern in Greak mythology, and on his journey, Odysseus travels to the underworld. For me, it questions the way we see death but, above all, how we see life: I’m trying to do good in my life but keep wondering if this is enough… What if there is no Elysium (the place where heroes supposedly go when they die)? What if there is only an infinity of grey/foggy winters? The song is not so much about me wondering whether there is an afterlife, but more about whether there is a chance at redemption in my living time. As was the case with all the songs, the keyboards were composed first, then J.A. recorded guitar tracks on them. He turned it into a very epic song which really feels to me like a journey. It culminates with these beautiful lead guitars at the end, provided by Philippe Durussel, who used to play with me in a band called Path Of Desolation.

2. Time, The Devourer:

This is the first song I composed for the album. The lyrics are not inspired by the “Odyssey” but rather from Hesiod’s “Theogony” and are of course about Cronos, a Titan considered as the God Of Time (not the guy from Venom). While writing the lyrics, I had the image of Goya’s “Saturn Devouring His Children” in my mind. This song really embodies the general theme of the album. As I’m getting old, I guess I realize how time is actually chewing me up. I’ve blown up opportunities, made wrong choices, and taken to wrong directions… with absolutely no hope of getting back and making things better. Guess the only thing left is to chew up my pride and wash it down with bitter wine.

3.Les Oiseaux de Proie:

A rendition of a sonnet written by symbolist poet Charles Marie René Leconte de Lisles, taken from his “Poèmes antiques”. I’ve always been fascinated by his work and every metal fan should read his work, especially if you are into doom and pagan stuff. His “Poèmes barbares” are simply amazing and explore myths from all over the world. Bands like Theater Of Tragedy and Draconian influenced me to venture into doom metal and their lyrics flourish with references and quotations from poetic works, including Byron, Shelley, Milton, Wordsworth… “Velvet Darkness They Fear” was actually the album that got me to take English literature in my studies, so you can say it had quite an impact on my life :-D Being a French speaker, I thought: why not delve into French poetry, instead of revisiting English authors, as many bands did? Leconte de Lisles was quite an obvious choice for me, as he had a broad collection of poems about Greek myths. So was this very sonnet: the narrator is sitting, close to the Gods, on a very high mountain contemplating the majesty of nature and transcendence. But birds of prey catch up with him and drag him back to the ground, forcing him to live instead of marveling at the beauty of the world. Maybe I got the poem wrong, but I’m thinking these birds could be seen as an image of mortality or mundane life.

At first, I translated the sonnet into English for the song, but it was J.A. who told me we should use the original French text. He was damn right. Musically, this is one of my favorite songs off the record, and this is largely due to Melodie Pican’s violin parts.

4. To Rest At Last:

One of the most famous parts of the “Odyssey” is when Odysseus and his crew come across the sirens, who try to lure them into the sea. “To Rest At Last” is a song about depression, about simply getting tired of fighting and accepting defeat. When you’re struggling every day through life, wouldn’t it be better to renounce and just let yourself slowly drift down at the bottom of the sea? The sands below and the arms of Poseidon’s daughters would be a comfortable place to rest and fall asleep, wouldn’t they? The song ends with a message in morse code. Maybe someone will attempt to translate it? I’ll spoil it: it’s a very depressing and sad message. This song shaped the “concept” behind White Mare’s lyrics. When I first came up with this song, I felt it had a kind of “marine” atmosphere and quickly got the image of Odysseus’ travels in my head. It made perfect sense with the band’s name: as I mentioned, the white mares are Poseidon's companions and a metaphor for the waves.

5. The White Mares’ Procession:

A song about old age and dementia. It depicts Odysseus’ wife Penelope, waiting for her husband to come back from war. In the “Odyssey”, she’s asked to remarry but delays it by promising she’ll choose a new husband when the tapestry she is working on is finished… Except she undoes her day’s work every night so it never comes to completion. In the song, Penelope is sewing her tapestry, contemplating the waves, the “white mares’ procession”. As she gets old, she loses her memories and conscience of herself, until she becomes totally estranged from this world. The tapestry is an image of memories, being undone with each passing day. So are the grains of sand, born away by the waves.

No hay comentarios

Imágenes del tema: Aguru. Con la tecnología de Blogger.