I’m fed up with this year’s winter. Although it’s not even half of the way, I can’t help myself longing for warm wind, green trees, and clear blue skies. In moments like these I seek comfort in music, and it never let’s me down. Last year has left us with so many amazing albums and I have a really hard time selecting the best ones to write about. But when it comes to making me feel better, there is nothing even close to what these talented French have to offer.
Unfortunately I have very poor knowledge of their history. What little I have learned, is that they are some highly talented young musicians that have organized themselves in what they call ‘Sesame-7 collective’. Members of this collective further organize themselves into bands, create and record music and that’s how we get to know them. I don’t know about the other bands except for these two: Setna and Xing Sa. Setna has recently released their second album named “Guérison”. The first one, “Cycle I” was released in 2007. As for Xing Sa, they have released only one album so far – “Création de l’univers” in 2010. All three albums were released by famous Soleil Zeuhl label and, amongst many other common traits, are incredibly good.
What exactly are we dealing with? Basically it’s a new, lighter approach to Zeuhl. The lightness comes from the fact that they have taken the sound of Magma’s keyboards (long, celestial, soothing notes) and supported them with even more celestial sounds from other instruments and voices. Simply put, they have made their trademark sound by making Zeuhl sound heavenly and uplifting.
This might sound simple enough, but make no mistake. This is just the most general description, a hint of what to expect. As soon as You start digging deeper You’ll find a whole new wealth of ideological and musical substance to dive in. I made a reference to Magma, but don’t be mislead about that either. Except for some superficial similarities this is a whole new sound, well thought out and flawlessly executed.
But, in case of Setna and Xing Sa, music is only but a medium through which to convey the message.
“Création de l’univers” takes us on a journey back to the beginning of time and reveals the mystery and beauty behind the forces of nature that turned oblivion into the world we know today. The music is full of grace and wonder. There is no rush – the creative process described within took billions of years and You can feel it in the way the sound slowly builds. Of course there were also many violent events and you’ll find that on the album as well, but however devastating they might have been, they were always the beginning of something new so the overall feeling of admiration, contemplation and excitement is always present.
Setna’s albums, on the other hand, take us on a journey deep inside ourselves. This time it is all about finding a peace of mind, knowing ourselves better and eventually making ourselves better. Then it’s also about gaining the right perspective on things, redefining your relations with other people and the whole world. Changing flow of the album and the occasional chants inspire internal dialogues – asking questions and seeking answers one wouldn’t normally ask. Somehow I have always imagined this process to be very disturbing and difficult, but Setna makes it fell like a walk in the park. The music doesn’t seem particularly happy, yet it feels very optimistic and comfortable despite it’s complexity. Generally speaking, whereas “Création de l’univers” is very stimulating for imagination, “Cycle I” and “Guérison” are more engaging and personal.
As already mentioned, all three album are truly remarkable. They are highly enjoyable and soothing for one’s troubled mind, each one in it’s own way. You don’t have to put yourself in the right mood before listening to them, they will impose theirs on you as soon as you start listening. And when you finish, you’ll be a better person.