Clair Cassis’s third release, “Luxury Absolute” follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, “Clair Cassis II”, falling into the exact same pitfalls. “Luxury Absolute” has eight songs, only two of which break the 2:30 mark. Clair Cassis still plays slow to mid tempo atmospheric black metal, which means that the songs simply cannot reach full fruition in under 2:30. Imagine buying a case of very expensive, fine wine. Now imagine popping those bottles and chugging them down like a bottle of two buck chuck. That’s what listening to “Luxury Absolute” is like. This album is a waste of some excellent melodies, riffs and musical passages.
Songs like “Olive Ink Seahorse” and “Under Sleepy Grey Elms” really deserve to be stretched out into full songs. However, these melodies are never developed into true songs; we are only granted an auditory tease. There are, however, two exceptions. The opener, “Antique Sea Smoke” is three and half minutes, which means it has time to develop (though really, even this song should be longer). What emerges is a song that sounds quite different from other Clair Cassis pieces. The song is less oceanic and more ethereal, with sharp guitars and melodious pianos. It ends with an excellent acoustic passage. Another success is “Soft Castles”, an ambient piece that recalls the eerie dissociative sounds of Velvet Cacoon’s “Atropine”. Like being dragged to the bottom of the ocean floor, the listener is taken to a wholly nonhuman environment.
These two more developed tracks make “Luxury Absolute” a bit better than “Clair Cassis II”. However, on the whole this is still an unsatisfying release. Clair Cassis has so much skill at uncovering rich, atmospheric melodies, but if they don’t piece them together into true songs (which they proved they could do on the debut) the melodies will go to waste. Hopefully the next Clair Cassis release will reemphasize the importance of songwriting and composition. If not, Clair Cassis’s relevance will be shorter than one of these songs.