Review Summary: A sublime passionate experience at its core.2 of 2 thought this review was well written
Musically, Saetia is as diverse as they are emotional. They are as lyrically adept as they are vocally excellent. They are as vocally excellent as they are musically diverse. And a posthumous discography is where their inner masterpiece is framed. Composed of fantastic musicians, Saetia explores (or rather explored, but for the sake of keeping music alive, I'll use present-tense from now on) an innumerable amount of various ways to express emotions. Billy Werner not only contributes vocals to the mix-which range from: barks; howls; soft singing; spoken-word; and high-pitched screams-but caustic, yet simplistic lyrics which toll the bells of nostalgia to the listener. It is truly a talent to be able to place such mundane problems and make them all so translatable when such mundane problems are able to branch out into various derivatives. It is also a talent to be able to reach to a talented voice which only amplifies the emotion expressed by the lyrics. It is an even bigger talent to be able to mesh emotional vocal work, adept lyrics, and steadfast musicianship into a cohesive unit to create such a masterpiece.
Speaking of the musicianship, the guitars provide excellent personality to the music. It is a wonderful use of a literary advice, however it is transported into musicality. It is what I personally expect from music, and it is satisfying to know that somewhere out there, this musicality, this instrumentation I used to pursue is alive. Not only is it alive, but it is well. For example, the rough, gritty guitars mesh with the bass which acts as a worthy muscle to the music as a whole on “Notres Langues Nous Trompent.” The drums are staccato and keep the beat well. And to keep the music from being stagnant (which so many tracks, so many albums, so many bands in this genre of music suffer from) they change the pace of things from the fast tempo the music is kept at to the melancholy, slow drone, where Werner expresses his sadness through moans, spoken word, and his signature howl. Such a flare this band possesses! And such a lyrical talent this band possesses as well.
I bleed onto a page for you where diction has lost all its meaning,
And secrets fall from lips like dying petals in a forgotten garden.
Believing language we speak in tongues deceiving ourselves,
My heart whispers in forms that twenty years of reason and cognition have rendered useless.
If only you could hear what I have seen for aeons before this zero.
To see our system as a void, to believe ourselves immune
To never feel our wings melting.
We are all spirits trapped and dying.
Trapped and dying.
Those words above which seem so easy to relate to, form a free verse poem which shows a great amount of literate craftsmanship, which never hurts in a musical world where bands place the lyrics in the back seat and let the image take the wheel. It is such a refreshing feeling to realize someone can portray an emotion with such talent. Perhaps this is a reflection upon another's disbelief? Perhaps a portrait of past and present loneliness?
These dialogue stars dream of Sundays in October...
Perception keeps us whole, and it may just be time
To look rather than merely see...
These testaments to divine light,
Years of work glare back at us...
Out from oil,
Out from marble,
Out from sound...
And sublimity, seeking sanctuary in the written word...
In the written word
To make the inspiration
To create a world from dust
That is what it means to be our own deities.
Perhaps the above is a written portrayal of one's previous dissatisfactions within life before said person found the ability to note, to appreciate the subtleties life has to offer: the sadness; joy; angst; problems natural aesthetic; beauty; personality; love; all the highs; and all the lows? Perhaps I am too fond of allegory? However, I can guarantee you there is meaning withing these lyrics, deep meaning.
Another highlight of this album is the track, “The Sweetness and the Light” which begins with a high-pitch guitar riff which acts as another positive aspect to the effort. Soon, the track descends, crescendos, descends again, and provides the listener with a satisfying musical experience. “Venus and Bacchus” begins with another high-pitched guitar riff which seems to swirl at the beginning of the track until Werner's vocals inhabit the background of the track, while the adept instrumentation takes its time in the spotlight. The two units, instrument and voice, cohere and form an emotional experience to behold.
And while I could praise every track on this album as a masterpiece, what a lengthy and redundant review that would create! However, before I halt this review, I must point out the flaw of the track placement. I understand the effort is a discography, and the focus is not on a cohesive track order necessarily, but more so keeping the artist's work alive. But why in god's name is this track order so poorly done? Why are the live tracks all lumped together instead of spread around where appropriate? Why is “Some Natures Catch No Plagues” not the closing track? Perhaps some natures do catch plagues?
In short, as a retrospective, I have only this to say about A Retrospective:
Musically, Saetia is as diverse as they are emotional. They are as lyrically adept as they are vocally excellent. They are as vocally excellent as they are musically diverse. And a posthumous discography is where their inner masterpiece is framed.