Review Summary: Progressive music which truly lives up to its title.
Sometimes it feels as if the progressive rock genre is the most hypocrite genre in the world, seemingly recycling more than actually renewing itself as the title would suggest. And I suppose some people don’t really become fully aware of it until you happen to cross ways with a wakeup call. Now, I’m not saying I’ve stumbled upon the holy grail of music here but what this French project’s sophomore effort has to offer is a very refreshing breath of fresh air in the progressive rock genre. There’s not much more I can say about this group though because firstly there is practically no information about them anywhere whatsoever on the internet and if there was I don’t even think I would know where to start. Samsara
portrays a quite baffling approach on the progressive rock genre; bordering to folk music throughout the whole record which probably perplexes lots of people with me that tries to define its sound.
Fundamentally its foundation rests upon quite dreamy soundscapes with a very woeful undertone but most importantly features a very wide range of instruments beyond anything close to what a Roland J-8000 is capable of simulating. There’s everything from quite a versatile collection of strings instruments such as the classic violin and cello, flutes, Celtic harps, trumpets, a selection of various Arabic instruments (such as the duduk oboe, mandolins and various vocal performances included but not limited to chantings), even a tin whistle and to my surprise, Scottish bagpipes! The list goes on and supposedly the innersleeve features one of those in which all instruments that were used in the making of this record gets a mention. Needless to say, the diligent use of this quite vast collection of instruments makes for a very exciting listening experience and at times I’m not even sure I would go as far as calling it progressive rock at all. I even think I’m hearing some electronic elements buried in the mix on one of the songs. Above that the songs are very well written and there are hooks practically everywhere. The album is almost totally devoid of actual drumming though which at times makes it feel very empty. Sometimes a set of percussion instruments are sparsely scattered across a couple of passages but they seldom linger for a longer period of time and the same thing can actually be said about the overall guitarwork. The album’s drive lies within almost entirely orchestrated passages with three different vocal approaches to top it off, (i.e. both male and females vocals with the addition of a few passages of Arabic chanting.)
This unorthodox approach on songwriting in correlation with the diverse ensemble of instruments captivated me in a way that not a lot of other music does. Every track seem to contain a small surprise and the hauntingly beautiful melancholic atmosphere which never leaves makes for a very fascinating listening experience. It’s all very ambitious and every part of the album is executed with absolute passion and sincerity. Though devoid of the sound that we’re used to hearing on a progressive rock album with the almost total lack of substance when it comes to rhythm and very subtle, in many ways simple but effective arrangements; this is very convincing music and totally lives up to the title of its genre.