VISION ETERNEL’s “Echoes From Forgotten Hearts”: an in-depth journey through emotional landscapes of melogaze

18 mins read

This Valentine’s Day, the Canadian composer and musician, Vision Eternel’s Alexander Julien, resurrects a hidden gem from his discography: the never-properly released 2014 soundtrack/EP, “Echoes From Forgotten Hearts.” Offering a counterpoint of depth and reflection, a decade after its creation, this work is re-emerging as a Deluxe Edition, promising listeners a voyage through the emotional landscapes of heartbreak and introspection that Julien has navigated over the past ten years.

The reissue, set to drop as a 23-song double-tape box set and digitally, comes adorned with new artwork by Michael Koelsch and Rain Frances, and has been remastered by the acclaimed Carl Saff.

This limited edition is not just a collection of songs but a meticulously crafted artifact, complete with an 80-page booklet and an exclusive postcard, inviting fans into the intimate world of its creation.

Julien, the visionary force behind Vision Eternel, has transformed personal tumult into a sonic odyssey that transcends the typical. His revisitation and expansion of “Echoes From Forgotten Hearts” invites us into a deeply personal journey.

Ahead of the release, Julien shared insights into the emotional and creative processes that shaped this project, offering a glimpse into the heart of an artist committed to exploring the depths of human experience through music.

See our interview below.

Interview by John Rojas:

Why did Vision Eternel start? Aside from wanting to share your sonic and poetic vision, what do you feel was your motivation to start this project?

Vision Eternel was formed, not as an accident per se but certainly unconsciously, in January 2007, while I was playing guitar and experimenting with audio effects in my home studio in Edison, New Jersey. It was inspired by my on-going depression over an ex-girlfriend. Allow me to back-track a little bit here to establish a correct setting. I had spent most of 2006 traveling back and forth between New Jersey, Ontario, and Quebec. A lot of that time was spent without being able to record music, which was difficult for me as I had been tracking all of my compositions since August 2003. Finally, I started recording my new songs on other people’s computers, but with limited equipment and whatever guitar I had at those particular times. By the end of December 2006, I was back at my parents’ house in the Briarwood East neighborhood of Edison, New Jersey. Although I knew that I had to move out of their house in the near future, I felt somewhat settled and secure enough to dedicate most of my time to music again. So in early January 2007, I started setting up my first proper home studio in an annex to the house; I named it Mortified Studio, after the record label, Mortification Records, that I was co-operating with some friends, Mortification Records.

I began recording, or at least having things ready to record, most of my rehearsals and discovered new audio effects, like reverb, delay, and echo, while exploring Cakewalk Sonar. Coming from a predominantly black metal background of bands, these were effects that I had never used, as I typically only used distortion. Those audio effects were a great motivational factor in my new compositions, especially since I was going through a depressive phase. It is a common story: I could not get over an ex-girlfriend, a breakup that dated back to the summer of 2005. Although I had since had other girlfriends, she was still very much an emotional presence, even more so being back in Edison, where she also lived. We no longer communicated, but I was always wary of running into her while about town, knowing not how I would react and if I may fall apart at the seams.

One afternoon in early January 2007, I came up with the song that later took on the title “Love Within Beauty” (the first Vision Eternel song). The song was neither planned nor forced, and I was not attempting to play any specific style or genre of music. I was very sad and decided to simply let the notes come naturally from my fingers to my guitar. With the reverb effect on, this simple, repetitive progression of notes sounded so beautiful to me; it echoed the feelings of my broken heart. I quickly recorded it but knew not what to do with this song. I was a metal musician, and although I played and recorded the song using what most would consider to be a typical metal musician’s equipment and setup, what came out was far from metal. This has proved to be an ongoing issue for Vision Eternel, as to this day, no one has been able to put a definitive label on the music that I make. Many genres have been affixed to this band, but none seem to truly fit.

A few nights later, while I was again extremely depressed, I decided to play another one of my guitars in bed. Uninspired by a specific type of music, I again let my emotions flow uninhibitedly through my guitar. What came out was “Love Within Isolation”. I was so moved by the sound of this song that I hurried downstairs to record it in my studio, switching to the same guitar that I had used for “Love Within Beauty”. Only the first two minutes of “Love Within Isolation” were recorded that night; the extended ending was tracked later in the month.

I then had two (still untitled) songs that sounded very different from my other bands’ material, and so an idea began forming, rather quickly, that I should start a new project to release them. Vision Eternel came to life at the same time as the theme and concept for its debut extended play was developed. I was part of a black metal and dark/black ambient circle at the time, named Triskalyon, which encouraged members to explore various creative outlets and form new solo projects and bands.


All solo projects in Triskalyon were named Vision something, so I began formulating the idea about which this band was to be. Both songs were composed while I was depressed and obsessed over an ex-girlfriend; it felt as if I was going to be thinking about her forever – eternally. I chose to deliberately misspell the band’s name Vision Eternel (originally Vision Éternel) because it was halfway between Vision Éternelle in French and Vision Eternal in English. Both languages are part of my background and heritage. It resulted in an original band name that would not get lost or confused if searched for online.

Simultaneously, I had the idea of creating a concept extended play dedicated to this past girlfriend, which would document my emotions and the span of our relationship across six instrumental songs. All of the song titles on this release would have a common prefix, and taking the first letter of each title would spell out her first name (which had six letters). I composed and recorded the remaining four songs, plus the extended ending to “Love Within Isolation”, within a month. I deliberately used the same guitar, setup, and effects on all songs to give a unified and conceptual sound to the release.


Another device that I implemented very quickly, and perhaps by luck due to coincidental timing, was to release the band’s debut extended play, Seul Dans L’obsession (which means Alone In Obsession in French), on Valentine’s Day. It tied in thematically because it was a heartbreak album, and what better time to release it than on Lovers’ Day? All Vision Eternel releases have since been released on Valentine’s Day, or were at least planned to be before they were delayed to later dates. Who knows which symbolic holiday, if any, may have been appropriated had the band started two months later.

I read that Dutch record label Geertruida offered to issue an expanded edition of Echoes From Forgotten Hearts as a mark of celebration of its 10 year anniversary. How did this come about and how do you feel about releasing it now, ten years later?

Echoes From Forgotten Hearts has had a turbulent journey and it frequently seemed as if it was destined not to be released. But because I so believed in the music that I had composed and recorded, I coddled this extended play over the years and fought to get it released. At times, I was forced into the position of a figurative baby-sitter, and as such I now feel extreme relief that it is out of my hands and available to the public. I still have difficulty accepting that it took this long to get released!

This version of Echoes From Forgotten Hearts is labeled and promoted as a Deluxe Edition because it is offered in an expanded form, but it is also and foremost the first time that it is released properly, and this, as you noted, after a decade. Nevertheless, let me confide that this edition just barely made it, as it was postponed, rescheduled, canceled, and abandoned by several record labels on numerous occasions.

Broken Limbs Recordings, Abandonment, Feather Witch, Somewherecold Records, Frozen Light, Mahorka, Beverina Productions, and Casus Belli Musica were some of the record labels that had the chance to release Echoes From Forgotten Hearts and were eager to do so, but for reasons that mostly escape me, chose to abandon the project at the eleventh hour. I do not mean that casual feeler electronic mails were sent to these companies; serious plans were made but the extended play was continuously dropped shortly before release. This is what I have been calling “the Deadsy curse” (a band of which I am very fond), because of a similar situation the group encountered with its debut album, and, to a lesser degree, its second album. Even Geertruida briefly canceled the release (for presumably different reasons), but we were able to patch our differences and find a suitable packaging. I feel as if Echoes From Forgotten Hearts has battled a series of false starts over the last ten years, and with this Deluxe Edition, released on February 14, 2024, the gears are finally aligned and moving forward. You may notice that the release date is Valentine’s Day, in keeping with the concept that Vision Eternel started in 2007.

Beforehand, Echoes From Forgotten Hearts was released digitally through my record label, Abridged Pause Recordings, on February 14, 2015, but I made a deliberate decision not to promote the extended play as I was hoping to secure a proper record deal for a physical edition. An extremely limited edition was later issued on compact disc, also via Abridged Pause Recordings, as part of the boxed set An Anthology Of Past Misfortunes, on April 14, 2018. But again, the promotion for this release was limited.

The idea of releasing a Deluxe Edition of Echoes From Forgotten Hearts originated from Beverina Productions, which offered to issue a double compact disc edition in a digibook packaging with a hefty booklet. This more-or-less resulted in the creation of a new cover artwork, the re-mastering of the songs, the creation of the book, and the addition of demos and alternate takes. Before this, I was still aiming for a standard issue of Echoes From Forgotten Hearts.

Geertruida came on board to issue a compact cassette edition of Echoes From Forgotten Hearts a few years ago, in October 2021, but the release was held back while I desperately tried to find a record label to release the compact disc and phonograph record versions. I wanted all physical editions to be released simultaneously so that they could benefit from a single promotional campaign (record labels tend to prefer this as well).

During the wait, Yannick Tinbergen (the co-owner of Geertruida) and I discussed and tried out several packaging options. The delay helped us come up with and develop a better product. Had it come out in late 2021, it would have been a single tape housed in a clear plastic Norelco case. Ultimately, we decided to pull our efforts into a boxed double-tape version, thus expanding it into a Deluxe Compact Cassette Edition. We also added the book and a postcard. Geertruida has always been swell to Vision Eternel by letting me explore custom packaging and pushing things further than a simple, standard release. And for that I am grateful. Geertruida is also releasing the Deluxe Digital Edition.


The highlighting of the material’s tenth recording anniversary was not planned, it just took this long to get it properly released! The mention of the ten years came to me while working on the press release in late 2023. It struck me as both meaningful (Vision Eternel is deep into concepts) and incredible that this release had been postponed, canceled, and rescheduled so much that ten years had gone by!

To cover another aspect of your question regarding my feelings towards this release at present, I think that it sounds better now than it did ten years ago. By that, I mean that the material was finally mastered by Carl Saff, so its sonic quality is superior. When I finished recording this extended play in December 2014, I approached ex-Vision Eternel member Adam Kennedy to master the release. He tried three different passes on a song but none suited my strict conception of how Echoes From Forgotten Hearts needed to sound. His work was far from bad, but it sounded to me like the songs were being mixed rather than mastered, and I wanted the release to remain the way that I had it mixed. So the digital version originally released via Abridged Pause Recordings in 2015 was never mastered. Some of Kennedy’s mixes are included in the Deluxe Edition.

In the making of this expanded version, a lot of the material was pulled from Mortified Studios’ archives, such as rehearsal recordings, demo versions, and alternate takes. Many of these sounded rough and unpolished, principally because they were sourced from compressed digital audio files. They were originally recorded and exported for reference purposes only, and not intended to be released. I think that Saff made them sound a lot better and the release sounds good as a whole. I am still proud of this music after ten years.


I noticed there’s a lot of methodical repetition in each composition. What was the intention behind that methodology? What was the writing and recording process like?

The repetitiveness and common motif in the “Pièces” was deliberate. The material that makes up Echoes From Forgotten Hearts originated as the soundtrack to a short film, which an acquaintance named Bradley James Palko was planning to make. In August 2014, he approached three composers, including Garry Brents, Jun Minowa, and myself, to each write and record a soundtrack for three short films he envisioned producing. All three of us had contributed material by our bands to his former record label, Dedicated Records’ Various Artists compilation Great Messengers: Palms in 2010.

I am an avid film fan and I like to believe that my music has always had a cinematic element. Film scores have been greatly influential to me as a composer, as have movies to Vision Eternel’s presentation and aesthetic. As such, I was excited to take part in this soundtrack project and immediately began working on the material.

Palko demanded that my completed score be submitted by December 2014, in time for the planned post-production work. However, he was unable to provide me any information about the film because he had neither a script started, nor any scene ideas. In other words, he just wanted to make films but had no idea what they were going to be about or how he was going to make them. On a more hopeful note, he had booked a flight to Iceland for October 2014, where he planned to film the short subjects.

The idea of composing and recording several short pieces, or movements, that built off of each other and used an arrangement of similar notes, resulted from this dilemma. It was my method of making progress on the soundtrack without a script. Since I had no knowledge of the scenes’ lengths, nor footage from which to work, I instead provided cues and themes that could be spliced into post-production without losing their build-up of emotions. Some of these pieces were purposely passive and repetitive so that they could be cut or faded at any time during the editing of the film. Others were more emotional and melodic and could be used for important scenes. Nevertheless, the soundtrack as a whole retained a familiar sound because all of the pieces were built from this single motif.

I am not a technical musician or complex composer, so this type of songwriting comes naturally to me and has been a staple of my work. Vision Eternel’s songs have always leaned towards the repetitive and hypnotic codas, yet retain a strong melodic element. I think that while this soundtrack was coming together, it already sounded like a Vision Eternel release. The soundtrack was completed after three months of work. But when I submitted it to Palko, I was informed, quite dismissively, that his short films had been abandoned weeks prior and he had instead used the funding to take an extended vacation around Europe. That was a distasteful way of finding out that my work and effort were in vain. I had fallen in love with the music that I had composed and recorded, so I decided to re-purpose it into a Vision Eternel extended play.

I went back to Mortified Studios (my home studio, then based in Saint-Hippolyte-of-Kilkenny, Quebec) to partly re-record and fully re-edit and re-mix the material. In the process, I composed and recorded a couple of new songs and dropped some of the older ones. Although it would have been impossible to take away the similarity between all of the songs (due to the single-motif approach), I let go of a few pieces that I felt were too passive once the release was to be ingested not as a soundtrack but as an extended play. In late December 2014, Vision Eternel’s fifth extended play, Echoes From Forgotten Hearts, was completed.

To address your query about the recording process, I have to admit that tracking music has always been a stress factor for me. I do not enjoy the chores of engineering and mixing while I am also performing (and at times simultaneously composing) the material. All of these tasks take away from the joy of either performing or composing. Without wanting to sound self-deprecating, I do not consider myself a producer. I simply took on the role of engineer, mixer, and producer by default because I needed to stay within budget and be self-sufficient in my solo projects, and while recording at my home studios (Mortified Studio in New Jersey, Mortified Studios across various apartments and houses in Quebec, and La Detente Studio in New Brunswick).

As such, I do recall having a wonderful time composing the material and being very excited when I wrote a new piece or found a different way of playing part of a piece. But being a bit of a perfectionist during recording, I often needed multiple takes before I was happy with the final version of a song. The soundtrack and extended play went through a series of seven preview sessions, each of which was used to showcase the latest recordings and mixes. Each version progressively changed to reach my satisfaction. Sometimes the changes were as little as having a different guitar or bass track on a single song, others as much as having a different track order and new mixes. I was finally satisfied with the material on the seventh preview session and it is that version which was released as Echoes From Forgotten Hearts (labeled as the Extended Play Version on the Deluxe Edition). The material previewed in the first session is included in the Deluxe Edition as the Soundtrack Version, as are many demos and alternate takes from before and between those two sessions.

Outside of documenting your feelings and intent with the novella, what was the motivation behind writing the book? Do you recommend that your listeners read the novella before or after? Why?

I think that it would be best if Vision Eternel fans read the novella, The Making Of Echoes From Forgotten Hearts – A Narrative Of Vision Eternel’s Soundtrack, after listening to Echoes From Forgotten Hearts. I do not think that this novella would be meaningful to one who is neither familiar with Echoes From Forgotten Hearts nor Vision Eternel.

The novella is not a fiction story, it is a detailed account of the making of this soundtrack and extended play. It is classified as a novella because of its total word count; it is longer than a short story but too brief for a novel. Ideally, I would like Vision Eternel fans to read the novella during the second listening session of Echoes From Forgotten Hearts. I would like to think that the reading is insightful but not distracting.


In answer to one of your earlier questions, I mentioned that Beverina Productions had offered to issue Echoes From Forgotten Hearts in a digibook packaging with a hefty booklet. This is where the novella originated. I had already planned to include extended liner notes and credits with the release, but with that offer, I suddenly needed enough content to fit a minimum of twelve pages (and a maximum of fifty-two pages). The idea of writing out the whole story of this release was developed from this dilemma. Thankfully, I had kept detailed studio logs and a band journal during the composing and recording of the release.

While re-familiarizing myself with the many misfortunes of this extended play, I began writing. And I wrote, and wrote… I am a researcher and biographer by trade, so compiling this type of document about my band was fulfilling. Before I knew it, I had been writing for three months and the fifty-two pages were filled. There was no room left for images! By then it was early 2022, and as one can now deduce, it took another two years before the release came out. As such, more writing was ahead of me to document the further tragedies of this extended play.


After other record deals came and went, and once Geertruida became the sole company invested in the project, Tinbergen and I struggled to find a way of including this lengthy story in the release. It was a very difficult period because, as had happened earlier with this release, I felt like the hard work that I had put into writing this novella was in vain; and that it was never going to be published. I fought for its inclusion in the Deluxe Edition, not (just) for my artistic vanity, but also because I strive to give Vision Eternel fans something special and original with our physical releases.

Re-issues are common when bands switch record companies, sometimes serving only as a way to keep releases in print. But this was not the case. This release is labeled as a Deluxe Edition, so it has to live up to it. Part of making a deluxe edition includes finding ways to make a release worthwhile and impressive to the public and for the fans. Music can be streamed and downloaded freely, so I think that it is important to give a reason for one to make a purchase. In addition, some may have already heard Echoes From Forgotten Hearts digitally over the years, or have a limited edition compact disc. So I was motivated to offer something new and different, something that Vision Eternel fans do not have.

We finally found a printing company, Mixam, that fulfilled small orders and offered a great selection of bindings and paper stocks, so we were able to professionally print these booklets in a format that fit the boxed set. In addition, I was no longer limited to fifty-two pages and could go all the way up to one hundred pages. That allowed me to include almost seventy images from the band archives, many of which have never been shared with the public. The booklet turned out to be a work of art of its own.

Although I did not think of this beforehand, including a novella with this release seems like it was the next logical step. In Vision Eternel’s past physical releases, I have included poetry, a short story, and extensive liner notes for re-issues or special editions. So a novella is not a departure from where I was heading.

Even though this novella is filled with eighty pages of pictures and stories, the perfectionist in me is still remembering or discovering little anecdotes that I would have liked to include in the booklet. But it is too late. It is out there; fans and I must be content with it.

What are your plans for 2024?

So much effort was made in nurturing this release over the years that it prevented me from composing. My mind and emotions were not able to focus on songwriting, at least not for long enough periods to be creative. Now that Echoes From Forgotten Hearts is out there and people can enjoy it, I am free and eager to start working on new music.

I have been recording rough demos of new Vision Eternel songs, or parts of songs, for the last few years and I plan to continue that this year. I am hoping to start recording Vision Eternel’s seventh concept extended play later this year. I may also work on an acoustic release, something with which Vision Eternel has been experimenting since 2007 when the band had multiple members.

However, I do plan to dedicate a few months to promoting Echoes From Forgotten Hearts. There is so much to discuss about the making of this release, and I hope that it receives a decent amount of coverage. A friend also suggested that I produce a music video for “Pièce No. Sept”, which would tie in with the promotion. I think that would be neat because it is an amazing song.

Also on the horizon may be a re-mix album. These would not be other artists’ songs re-mixed by Vision Eternel, but rather an album made up of other artists’ re-mixes of Vision Eternel songs. This is something that I have been thinking about, casually, for a few months. Last April, a fan named Yasin, who produces under the name Birdz, sent me a message on Instagram to let me know that he had created a trap hip-hop type of re-mix from Vision Eternel’s song “Season In Absence”.

At first, and before hearing it, I was skeptical because hip-hop is not a genre that I find myself listening to often. I was also worried about Vision Eternel getting re-mixed without my input because I am very protective of this band. However, after hearing it, I was very impressed. I was amazed by Yasin’s work; he turned it into a really good song and I listen to it often. I have since been putting out feelers with friends to see if others would be interested in doing re-mixes. If it turns out that enough people are on board, it might turn into something.

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