Archive for October, 2010
I mentioned recently that one of my favorite all-time singers, Anggun, was on the unbelievably brilliant album Atemlos by Schiller. Her work is as remarkable as his, in terms of talent, uniqueness, and a passion in their music that is so rarely seen in this day and age where we seem to be manufacturing music without any real feeling.
Anggun first caught my ear in 1998, when her first English international album Snow on the Sahara was released, and it was played once and only once on a local radio station here. She’s Indonesian with a French background, and not yet known in America. Google wasn’t a superpower back then, nor was Yahoo, so I really had to hunt the song down. I found it on this magnificent album, a record that truly stands on its own apart from any other female vocalist I’ve ever heard.
Snow on the Sahara is relaxing, intelligent, heartfelt, and it really takes you away to a place of tranquility in your head. I used to listen to it all the time when I’d study, or go to sleep, or just about any other time in my life where I wanted/needed to be at ease. It doesn’t have the empty cheesiness that Enya commonly falls into – it’s deep, it’s soulful, it’s as pure in sound as any.
Songs like “By The Moon”, “A Rose in the Wind” and “On the Breath of an Angel” make you feel like you’re sailing away somewhere far from any of your troubles. I know that sounds corny, but it’s absolutely true. They’re melodic, simple and a perfect lucidity.
Not all songs have the ability to put you to sleep – “Over Their Walls”, “Dream of Me” and “Valparaiso” have more of an island sound in my opinion, and are nothing short of bright and vibrant in their harmonies and chord progressions. She comes to life in everything she puts a tune to, and these songs have an epic feel that makes you only want to hear more.
She immediately seemed well versed to me when she even did a cover of David Bowie’s “Life on Mars”, an odd choice I thought, but it worked perfectly with her own touch. Her voice just blows through the song, and though it does vary considerably from the rest of the album, it’s one of the better covers I know, and certainly one of the most original.
Altogether, Snow on the Sahara has become one of my favorite all-time albums, and her work since has developed and advanced, continually keeping herself fresh and reinvented with each record. Anggun Cipti Sasma is one of the world’s best female solo artists, and I hope she finds great success on our shores someday.
One of my favorite all-time bands, one of the best metal bands ever created, and one of the most promising groups of musicians I’ve ever heard, lived briefly in the mid-to-late nineties. Their guitars were heavy and ugly enough to silence any other in their genre. Their rhythms were as nasty as they were catchy. The music they spanned in a few short years could have changed the scene forever. They put on an incredible aggressive show, and captivated anyone that saw them.
That band was Drain STH; a band formed by four Swedish women that would lead you to believe they were Motorhead gone mad. They made melodies ugly and phenomenal at the same time; something I haven’t heard before, or since. Eleven years since their breakup, and I still miss their bone-crushing symphonies.
Horror Wresting ought to be defined as a metal necessity for any fan of the genre. From the jaw-dropping heaviness of “I Don’t Mind” to the anthem that is “Serve The Shame”, to their hellfire cover of “Ace of Spades” that literally makes you feel like the apocalypse is about to incur its wrath all around you. And, in case you haven’t had enough of a powerful record thrown at you, they write the brilliant “Crack The Liar’s Smile” that sounds like something Nancy Wilson could have written.
But beyond that – their harmony, their excellent timing and their remarkable dark songwriting skills makes them as unique of a band as any I’ve ever experienced. They were ahead of their time, and still are. Every track had the same moodiness, but with different elements each time. And having such a feminine looking band writing something so disgustingly fantastic made them even more interesting.
Their lead singer, Maria Sjoholm, married Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi and that was the end of that. The other members play here and there, but they’ve never been able to find their niche since. It’s such a shame, because in less than five years of playing music together, I easily mark them as one of the most unheralded, intelligent and mesmerizing metal bands in history.