LIVE: Laetitia Sadier @ BSP Lounge, 10/4/15
Review by Steve Nover
Sunday the 4th of October, I drove to BSP Kingston to see Laetitia Sadier perform. The singer is not a household name, and despite owning 25 of her CDs – between her former band Stereolab (1990-2009), Monade (three CDs released) and three CDs under her own name since the band was dropped when Elektra Records folded – when I wear one of her band’s t-shirts, I’m usually met with curious questions from people who know nothing about the band.
Bias is a given, listening to them more than any other band the last 25 years (although Sonic Youth a close second). I had never seen a band at BSP Lounge before, but it’s worth the hour trip; the club has atmosphere, can fit 100 people comfortably, featured an impressive DJ (who for over an hour managed to play great music that I was unfamiliar with) and an adventurous booking agent who manages to get bands often that don’t make it to the Local 518.
In Stereolab – formed with Tom Gane (he mostly the music maker; she the lyrics) – Sadier played keyboards, guitar, percussion and trombone, and the music was often complex layers of instruments that were often repetitious and hypnotic with numerous influences. At BSP, her music was stripped down to a trio format, as she played electric guitar joined by a bassist and drummer. The rhythm section was especially tight being that this was the last night of the tour before returning to England.
Sadier is French, and as in Stereolab, she usually sings a few songs in French. While the lyrics are often quite political and critical of inequality, massive hunger, war, Fascism, the music is almost always happy; you have to listen carefully to actually hear her passionate message.
This particular night I was not alone in knowing her music and adoring her, and it felt a bit like home. Her set list drew primarily from her solo CDs (especially the most recent, last year’s Something Shines) and a couple from Monade, and the audience was mostly respectful. The stage was no more than a foot high and like Valentine’s (BSP is much longer and twice as wide) fans were inches from the stage.
Wonderful titles like “Find Me the Pulse of the Universe,” “Between Earth & Heaven,” “Statues Can Bend” and “Ceci Est le Coeur (This Is My Heart)” often have her speaking for the masses to authority… hopefully not in vain.
Sadier’s politics are often beautifully written and not with a hammer. On “Butter Side Up,” she sings “still looking for treasures, searching atmosphere, hello all the scientists, elegant astrophysicists. The firmament affirms that perhaps the azure would provide the remedy. If only to implement the mystery, obscure solutions, arcane poetry. We need, we need answers! Make us look in the air, still looking for treasures in the atmosphere. Obscure solution, arcane poetry, beholder the key.” If intrigued at all, I would say start with Stereolab’s Dots & Loops, Emperor Tomato Ketchup and Mars Audiac Quintet, all of which can be found on YouTube complete.
The wonderful night also featured an interesting opener, Deradoorian, a duo led by Angel Deradoorian, formerly the bassist for Dirty Projectors for five years. Playing bass and guitar, she also utilized looping to free herself and enrich the sonic layers. Joined by a female drummer/percussionist/backing vocalist (also dressed all in black and looking like Deradoorian’s sister), the twosome frequently featured off-beat, atonal music (think Tune-yards) and were a perfect opener for Sadier. Having worked with a number of bands and guested with Flying Lotus, Brandon Flowers and the Roots, Deradoorian is an original presence on the music scene.