Next month, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian will be celebrating the arrival of their…
- Posted on Jul 31st 2012 4:15PM by Robert Ham
But the woman behind the album, Laetitia Sadier, is quite serious about the implications and spiritual growth that can come with finding what she calls "pure silence."
"The first time it happened to me was in a church in a small Spanish town," the 44-year-old songwriter told Spinner recently. "This moment where no one made a noise and no noise could be heard from outside. I got to connect very deeply with myself. It felt so good! Almost orgasmic. I have yet to find a true moment of silence like that again."
To emphasize the beauty of silence, and to encourage her listeners to seek out those moments on their own, Sadier closes her fifth solo effort with a track called "Invitation au silence," or an "invitation to silence."
Mainly a spoken-word piece, it features a recording of Sadier speaking in her native French about her experience finding true silence. That recording was then played back in a church in the south of France (and translated in a whisper by one of the singer's friends). The track is a recording of that playback and followed a full two minutes of "silence" from within the church sanctuary.
The results are positively breathtaking, reminiscent of avant garde composition John Cage's "4'33"" -- a piece that asks for nothing to be played by musicians on stage for four-and-a-half minutes, letting the ambient/environmental noise provide the soundtrack.
If you're unfamiliar with the work of Sadier, the idea of wrapping up an album of gorgeous pop songs with a track that is mostly silence might seem unusual. In truth, it's just a further extension of her work in Stereolab. That long-running group succeeded in wedding the giddy highs of '60s and '70s pop with free jazz, experimental electronics and Socialist ideology.
Sadier's solo work has maintained a similar line but if anything, the rhetoric on Silencio -- the first release the singer has done since Stereolab went on an indefinite hiatus -- is stronger and more fiery. "Auscultation to the Nation" is as jaunty and jangly as anything her former band did, but the lyrics (taken verbatim from an angry caller to a French radio program) reflect Sadier's frustration with agencies whose financial ratings can spell doom for the world economy.
"Who are these guys and why do we let them govern us and decide what is best for our country?" Sadier says. "We didn't elect them and they are ruining us."
Also in keeping with the Stereolab spirit is this idea of wrapping up these socio-political explorations in pure pop music, a far cry from the in-your-face attack of punk and metal bands who tend to be the ones flying the anti-establishment banner.
To that end, Sadier credits the spirit of the post-punk era in the U.K., referencing bands like Gang of Four and Wire who "weren't commercial bands but they had a following. They had this alternative movement and some people really adhered to it and it gave meaning to people's lives."
And for all the work that Sadier has done throughout her career to maintain that spirit and inject into the popular consciousness, she fears it might be lost on the current crop of young musicians.
"I don't really see any such movement. They can sing a tune and play and look cool, but they are doing mediocre music and aren't completely involved with their music. Like completely taken body and soul. Of course there are some very good bands, but they tend to be older people. I haven't seen a super exciting young band that totally knocks me off my feet. I'm sure they exist but I have yet to see that."