SYLVAIN CAREL: Salammbô (2016)
“Always pulled out of his tales of the thousand and one night of the Arab world, Sylvain Carel invites us to another majestic musical tale anbout a history of sultana legend”
1 Invocation 8:52 2 The Sacred Veil 9:39 3 Priestess of Tanit 9:24 4 Beneath the Wall 9:04 5 The Gardens of Megara 9:04 6 In the Arms of Salammbô 10:25 7 Three Miles from Utica 8:20 8 Walk to the Temple Gates 6:34 9 Eclipse 7:10
(CD 78:52) (V.F.)
(Symphonic, tribal and cinematographic EM)
Sylvain Carel reminds me of David Wright, or yet Vangelis! In this sense that he is second to none to modulate stories into music. Comfortable in his studio and with the experience of his concerts coated of theatrical aspects, he knew to over the years how to make up a music which fits perfectly the forms of his fantasies with a sensible choice of the invisible instruments that he forges in the interstices of his synths. Foggy voices, flavors of exotic flutes, pads of violin which fly with the grace of the pelicans, noisy percussions makers of dramatic atmospheres and a skillful meshing between stringed instruments and a hyper melancholic piano are sculpting some slow movements which little by little nibble at our feelings. It's the bed of SALAMMBÔ! Always pulled out of his tales of the thousand and one night of the Arab world, Sylvain Carel invites us to another majestic history of sultana legend put in music with his last album. Inspired by the priestess of Tanit, SALAMMBÔ (Priestess of Tanit) puts into soundscapes the history of this lunar divinity who was worshipped so much for her beauty than her enriching power. It's a bit much like the music...
A delicate guitar moistens the dusts of sands and the droning lines which introduce us to Invocation. The first structure of rhythm is pensive, and it sways within the sweetness of the tic-tac of the wooden percussions. A seraphic voice murmurs a Berber dialogue while a line of bass (I don't know why I think of The Wall from Pink Floyd here) and the percussions give more vigor to the rhythm which always remains faithful to a beautiful ballad sculptured in the moods of an acoustic six-strings. Synth effects give a veil a bit dramatic to a music which releases some beautiful flavors of ethereal voices. The arrangements which follow adopt a little the effect of jerk from the bass line without propelling Invocation which always stays near a symphonic mid-tempo which is also caressed by beautiful effects of flute and luxurious arrangements. Both poles will draw a tear on the corner of our eye. You like? You are going to devour the superb The Gardens of Megara of which the mixture of slightly electronic rhythm and rich film atmospheres (and this guitar which dances in the strands of sequences) make of it the most impressive track of SALAMMBÔ. It's very poetic ... Immensely dreamlike! Evidently, we are not in the lands of the Berlin School here. Except that Sylvain Carel modifies slightly his Arabic tribal approaches with a greater presence of the synths, he will even add some delicate movements of sequences, like in Three Miles from Utica which really does like a kind of electronic Persian music, and the powerfully lento movement of Eclipse. This last one is a real treat. A great closing title! For the rest, SALAMMBÔ favors more the soft and dreamy structures which connect directly our ears to the image tube of our brain. The Sacred Veil is a ambiospherical track where we smell the odor of the sand through those lines filled with flutes and with tunes of prism which wrap morphic voices. That does very Kitaro, but a Kitaro Arab. Keyboard chords are dragging the weightiness of the feelings of Sylvain Carel into Sino-Arabic harmonies which are delicately perturbed by delicate implosions of rhythm towards the finale. It's very quiet and the slowness of the orchestrations is exquisite. And it's even more delicious in the very Arabian and serene Walk to the Temple Gates and whose cinematographic essence here doesn't make no doubt regarding the skill of Sylvain Carel. With its thick cloud of bells which float in the wind, Priestess of Tanit brings us in the mysticism of the oriental world. A piano puts down its dreams on the bed of violins and cellos to the very Saracens sighs. If the first 6 minutes are as well serene as dreamlike, the rhythm which escapes takes the shape of a soft electronica with percussions in the tones of rattlers which shake their little spherical bells on a smooth lively rhythm which sounds to the limits like a kind of festive jazz. In the Arms of Salammbô is sculptured a little bit in the same style, but with an a little more poignant crescendo. It's a track which is very movie kind with superb arrangements, but I have the impression to repeat myself here. Beneath the Wall hangs onto this segment of rhythms without borders of SALAMMBÔ with felted percussions which murmur a tempo which activates only my neurons. Here as somewhere else, the orchestrations are rich and dense, drawing images of a world of which the beauty has limits only our imagination. An imagination which follows on the other hand Sylvain Carel's sonic pallet of colors.
With a music as much inspired than inspiring and which tickles this small link which leads us to dreams, SALAMMBÔ is doubtless Sylvain Carel's most accomplished work to date. Placarded in 9 tracks which border the 9 minutes each, the music inhales the inspiration of his author who takes good care to use every second of it in order to enrich sound sculptures which join sometimes the diapason of our emotions and sometimes the wonderment in front of so much accuracy to define a place or a vision. Every track possesses this little something which attracts us in a music that we learnt to discover and to like since the nights of Caravansary. Yes! Sylvain Carel deserves his place among the most beautiful music storytellers. It's an artist to discover because here, the music really bears its name.
Sylvain Lupari (April 3rd, 2016) ***½**
Available at Sylvain Carel Bandcamp