Boomkat Product Review:
Top drawer psilocybin/folk/late night manoeuvres from mysterious French ensemble ssabæ - a surreal and at times unfathomably beautiful artmelt that’s highly tipped if yr into anything from Oï les Ox to Luboš Fišer, Paavoharju, Catherine Ribeiro or that mad 109-track pearl from Voice Actor released earlier this year on Str000my.
ssabæ are rumoured to be a kind of collective madness involving bassae and Iueke - a “nebula of friends gathering in studios, meadows and tiny apartments all over France" with members including vocalist Margaux Delatour, percussionist Oedipa Maas, Étienne Chaigne on guitar, Michael Ruellan on synth, Erwan Birib on FX and a credit to legendary mycologist Paul Stamets for mixing, plus the unmistakable presence of debonaire boss Iueke wafting his sax thru proceedings.
With a title referencing psychedelic mushrooms, you already prob know it's gonna be a tripped-out and highly kaleidoscopic dream diary, led by Delatour's breathy vocals and carefully abstracted instrumentation from her collaborators. But despite the long list of personnel, the music is almost whisper-quiet and blue, absorbing the vivid fantasy of Luboš Fišer's ‘Valerie and Her Week of Wonders’ without replicating its bolshy Czech new wave energy, pulling away the most crucial ingredients and slowing them down to an inebriated crawl.
Opener 'Tous Les Murs Sont des Portes' offsets ancient folk instrumentation with Delatour's nursery rhyme ritual chants, slowly diluting into brain-splaying microtonal weirdness with choppy, hard-panned sax cutting into the landscape. The title track is where everything comes into focus though; barely-there percussion left to wrap around Delatour's beautiful voice, here emphasised through every word in ASMR-tingle-inducing style - you can hear the moisture on the lips, every intake of breath.
azurescens is an album that opens with dayglo-psychedelics and gradually dives deeper in on itself, ending up with some of the most sensual and intimate music we've heard all year. For those of you who crave the thrill of the new - this is the special stuff.