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Setna - Cycle I CD (album) cover





3.93 | 53 ratings

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4 stars Ethereal Zeuhl

To the casual prog fan this venture by French band Setna just might be the best way of approaching the Zeuhl brand. The mad and overtly gibberish laden characteristics that often sound like showering opera singers and piano playing walruses here are exchanged for something softer and far sweeter.

That is not to say that Cycle 1 is a diet Zeuhl album, even if I completely echo my fellow reviewer Luca's sentiments, when he opened up his review with: 'How can Zeuhl be so light and accessible?' There is indeed a lightness to this music - a fluid feathery veil of sorts that covers most of this recording with an easy digestible coating, - one that preferably should entice people from far far away who normally frown upon the French theatrics and bands named after molten rock.

Divided into 9 separate tracks, the album still sounds as one continuous piece that ebbs and flows delicately over you like a warm summer breeze. All the individual Zeuhl trades are there, maybe except for the big male choral outbursts, but the classic zooming bass lines throbbing, writhing, propelling the music forward, the clever and intricate jazz stylings of the drums, the electric piano relegating pensive and soothing soundscapes - all of this is here in full. Which means that you folks out there who love Zeuhl for what it is, you'll still find a lot to love on here, even if things tend to unfold abnormally pretty and beautiful.

Oh yes, those two adjectives are at times some of the most terrifying and unwelcome words to the proggers out there who revel in dissonance and the bizarre. "Beauty?!?!??? Hell, I'd rather feck a sheep with flowers in its fur!" Whatever your preferences may be - whatever floats your boat musically - this thing will more than likely hold something to your liking. Apart for the already mentioned ingredients, the vibe here is more than anything: ethereal. That's a first time for me. Ethereal Zeuhl. That's like electronic folk........... Well, as strange as that may sound to you, the combination of this liquidy, oozing - ethereally wafting fusion and those aptly placed Zeuhlish features - does work wonders on Cycle 1. And topping this most delightful mix off - is a big bag of tricks that continues to amaze the listener all throughout the album. Zing!

Firstly, the serene clean female vocals occasionally guesting are downright gorgeous. Feels like listening to a feminine rain cloud singing - something light and wet, a ghost of olive oil, or maybe something entirely made up of ice and sunbeams. Then you have some marvellously placed saxophone parts underlining the odd sections that just need that little bit of extra umphh of jazz and zest. Wonderful indeed, just like the omnipresent Fender rhodes or the seldomly heard guitar that right at the very end peeps out of hibernation to give you something very rare inside a Zeuhl album, which is a heartfelt, bleeding solo - going right through the speakers and into your soft drink - disturbing ice cubes and strange mini umbrellas.

This is music you put on whilst spending time under a waterfall. It's something for a night out on the river. Music for the eternally wretched of us that seek consolation and comfort in the sonic side of life - presenting itself as both complex riveting blood-rushes as well as daydreaming affairs that chill you right down to your very core. This thing does both - incredibly well.

Guldbamsen | 4/5 |


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