Sorry, Ms. Merkel: The Unifying Force of Sans Soleil

Chris Daly breaks down the new album from European hodgepodge Sans Soleil.
By    June 22, 2016


Chris Daly is more of a La Jetée man.

Sans Soleil was originally an experimental film by the French director, Chris Marker. The film presents a collage view of the world, taking footage shot in various countries, interspersing it with music and voice-overs to create a truly unique and very international piece of art. The Germany-based collective of the same name takes this “blender/melting pot” approach on Hellnova—their latest offering on Confunktion Records—to create the perfect meeting point of downtempo, electronica, jazz and hip hop. Comprised of musicians, beat heads, and singers from such disparate locales as Turkey, Spain, Hungary, and Greece, Sans Soleil shines a light on the darker side of the get down scene.

Each of the 13 tracks here succeeds immensely by taking the disparate—and finding the hidden—connecting points between all and creating a new whole from the mashed pieces. Whether this is down beat jazz inflected hip-hop or hip-hop laced jazz with beat tendencies is entirely irrelevant. What matters is that this gaggle of musicians is able to draw from very different pools to Neptune up an ocean of their own devising.

Take, for instance, stand-out track, “Solo,” with Berlin’s Paco Mendoza on vocals accompanied by wistful horns and pipes and ’80s kickdrums. Or “The Day After,” with Barcelona’s Lady Emz ably supported by dripping saxophones and thumb piano. Either of these jams are as well suited for Adult Swim late night bumps as they are for after hours parties.

There is a common thread here, though. These genre-less jams are improved by the multitudinous experiences of the myriad players. Whether it is Germany’s Flamingo Star going solo on the Fender Rhodes on “Mentalonliest” or the Hungarian violin of Laszlo Thoth on “Sans Soleil,” these players bring their own perspective while still being able to blend harmoniously with one another. Britain may be unclear of its future status within the E.U., but Hellnova is the very reason why Europe is better off as a unified whole—everyone brings their own flavor to the kitchen table, and this universally results in a better final stew for everyone.

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