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.