Ex-Stereolab singer Laetitia Sadier’s voice echoes into pure silence to close her second solo record.
Not only does it provide the album with its name, Silencio, the quiet is a guiding principle for listeners.
“I do think that within silence there is the truth. You can listen to your body and your body tells the truth. You can listen to your soul – and that’s how you get to know yourself. We are always looking to the outside when it is all there inside.”
Sadier, a spiritual and principled being who fronted the left-leaning cult band now on indefinite hiatus, says silence helps the search for truth.
Born in Paris, once a resident of Bordeaux, and now back in London (“I feel it is my true home”), she had difficulty finding tranquillity.
Then she had a revelation in a church in Zamora, Spain, a city with the highest concentration of Romanesque-style churches in Europe.
“I had an afternoon free before soundcheck and a guy was proposed to be my guide. We wandered the streets and entered this beautiful old church.
“We sat and my revelation became tangible. I knew we don’t need to make war and consume until we are sick with cancer. I knew that already. But I had a confirmation of it.
“And really that gave me title of the next album. I didn’t know I would do another album, but after that it became clear.”
She enlisted a friend who records silent background scenes for movies – usually the clinking of glasses, talking in a café, for example – to record the final minutes of the spoken word track in Toulouse.
Sadier’s words, about finding true silence, being connected to her inner self and having a healing experience, were played back and recorded in the church to capture the rare acoustics.
She does not have religious beliefs (“I respect some people have them, as long as they don’t try to convince me to join them”) but believes the sites chosen by pagans for their sacred importance are still highly charged with energy.
It makes for an avant-garde composition, think John Cage’s “4’33””, which considers how, in the commercial as well as the personal and political worlds, silence frightens.
“People are kept in fear full stop. And that is also my point behind Silencio. All the emptiness in an atom is where love is. That is the space for love. It was Einstein who said that.”
She believes we are made to love life.
“That is our natural inkling, but we also have fears and they are pumped up by the system. It is in the interest of the system that we are fearful and hateful because we buy more when we are in those states; we are less of a threat to the status quo, more exploitable as fearful, rather than connected beings who know who we are.”
The other eleven tracks on the record were not made in silence.
Former Stereolab man Tim Gane plays on the record. James Elkington from The Zincs has contributed two tracks. Sam Prekop from The Sea And The Cake features.
The lyrics are in French and English. Merci De M’avoir Donné La Vie is an eerie lo-fi number in honour of Sadier’s mother. Moi Sans Zach is a loungy and lush lonely walk down the Seine originally written to be a duet with Beirut’s Zach Condon.
“That was a reflection on how Paris seemed to promise so much but never delivered. It’s not a lively place, it’s not about life; it’s rather about judging and putting things in boxes. I love it but energetically it’s really down.”
Opener The Rule Of The Game sets the tone with socio-political musings wrapped in indie pop aesthetics. Sadier’s always been a thought-provoker and the track is inspired by Jean Renoir’s 1939 film about the ruling class’s responsibility in the rise of fascism, La Regle du Jeu.
“To me what resonated is that ruling elites have such good manners, but they are like dehumanised ghosts. They have no sense of the other or others’ lives. They don’t care. They are like empty shells.
“They are indifferent and they are depicted in a horrible way in this film, but you kind of like them, you don’t hate them.
“They are depicted with a lot of love and that is the cruellest mirror you can put in front of someone.”
Democracy is unpicked on Auscultation To The Nation, with Sadier singing a verbatim account of angry callers ranting to a French radio phone-in.
“We were at a stage where in Italy and Greece both presidents had been sacked and replaced by ex-Goldman Sachs men.
“One caller was saying nothing is more telling than this. This is how enslaved we are to the financial markets, and enslavement to a financial market is the opposite to democracy where people choose their fate.
“His message was down with this enslavement, let’s bring back democracy. He said it directly, you can’t argue with that, but at the same time why aren’t more people articulating that? Democracy is a precious thing we fought for.”
Sadier will be joined in Brighton by drummer Emmanuel Mario who produced and played on Monstre Cosmic by the previous post-Stereolab project she fronted, Monade, and on half of her other solo record, The Trip.
Spanish bass player Xavi joins to makes up what she calls her “cosmic band”.
- Laetitia Sadier plays Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar, Middle Street, Brighton, on Wednesday, November 14. Starts 7.30pm, tickets £10. Call 01273 606312