Friday, 5 December 2014

Sans Soleil - A Holy Land Beneath A Godless Sky (Album Review)

sans soleil a holy land beneath a godless sky

Album Type: Album
Date Released: December 30th 2014
Label: Tofu Carnage Records

A Holy Land Beneath A Godless Sky – track listing

1. A Holy Land
2. An Umbral Plain
3. Beneath A Godless Sky
4. Across Brilliant Sands


Eva Vonne


Sans Soleil’s debut LP is the best instrumental record of the year. Period. No reason to bury the lede here – this debut LP by the Austin TX five-piece is haunting, beautiful, lush, and rocking. Obviously indebted to post-rock acts like Godspeed! You Black Emperor, The Dirty Three, and the soundtrack work of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, A Holy Land Beneath a Godless Sky is a psychedelic journey across a soundscape that is both alien and all too human.

The first track, A Holy Land, is a sprawling prog-laced introduction that rockets into high gear around the midway point, evoking beauty and destruction, leading into the shadowy dirge of An Umbral Plain. Eva Lynne Aldridge’s viola is often the focal point of the band’s work, but Sans Soleil is not a “gimmick band” by any means. Rather, Aldridge works as both melodic lead and harmonic counter, sometimes retreating so far as to be mistaken for a plaintive voice in the background, as guitars take center stage in Beneath a Godless Sky.

Throughout every track, Sans Soleil feels like “world music,” and not in that icky way that Yanni felt like world music for your aunt’s creepy boyfriend (the one with a greasy ponytail and lots of opinions about crystals). Rather, Sans Soleil feels worldly, a group of musicians on par with the Kronos Quartet, who can evoke middle eastern chants one moment and Delta blues the next. A Holy Land Beneath A Godless Sky, despite the strength of individual tracks, feels like a unified piece throughout, as closing track Across Brilliant Sands makes clear. Both heavy and mournful, the song is the apotheosis of the album: a beautiful work that consistently feels like it may slip into chaos. Beyond metal, beyond psychedelia, beyond instrumental, beyond genre, this album is simply a rare gift for anyone who appreciates and loves transcendent music.

Words by Mark Ambrose

Thanks to Catharsis PR for sending us a promo. The album will be available to buy on Vinyl from Tofu Carnage Records from December 30th 2014.

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