'World Falling Down' EP by SatsangiReview
I reviewed (back in November) the most recent single from Satsangi, "World Falling Down" and mentioned a little bit at that time about their collaborative cross media project for which it is the title track.
Today sees the release of a fuller collection from the project, including the single, but adding three extra tracks "The Storm In My Eyes", "Blackbird" and "My Regeneration".
As you already know, the focus of the project is the Coventry Dresden Friendship Festival and so the last mentioned track is a collaboration between the band and Dresden based band Søjus1.
In addition, Satsangi have involved Leamington's own Shanade Morrow in what they have been crafting & she brings not just her vocal talents but her sensibilities to the collection.
As you might expect from the subject of the project, poignancy informs each song, regardless of its other sonic identities. Listening to these songs in a week when war has returned to Eastern Europe, re-engulfing cities which feature on all those old maps of World War Two campaigns, the songs gain even more meaning & force than when they wrote them. Like Wilfred Owen their ".. subject is War and the Pity of War. The poetry is in the pity".
And indeed the compass of this music aims far beyond the specific: the lyrics (by Sujatha Menon) speak of conflicts past & present, wars far off in time & place & beyond our experiences or comprehensions.
As the band themselves state "...the music, lyrics and imagery reflect the uncertain times we are living through in what is being termed the ‘post-truth' age, with social conflict and disputation spreading across many aspects of life, including the effects on individuals and communities of the pandemic, the effects and pressures brought about by the climate change emergency, and the emergence of extreme political attitudes, such as the Far Right in the United Kingdom and in Europe."
And despite the unpleasant forces which brought these songs to life, there is a profound beauty generated by the music: timeless in its applicability to human frailty & cruelties. If Satsangi's own music with its fusion of eastern & western traditions reminds us that death & destruction is not a monopoly of Europe, then the startling input of Søjus1 adds an apocalyptic vision from Mitteleuropa which evokes both the blood soaked lands so frequently crossed by forces of destruction bringing genocide in their wake but also the heavy industrial legacy of the region. The alienated intonations of "My Regeneration" offer a startling contrast & complement to the three other songs & quite rightly leaves the future hanging in the air uncertainly.
Again as they say themselves, the songs represent "..a reaction to a changing world. Through our music, videos and Sujatha Menon's words, our aim is to create an alternative space in which to reflect on the social - political upheaval caused by the personal and collective challenges that face us today." And no one is kidding themselves that the process of change is complete nor the challenges resolved.
If the title track aims to awaken consciences, then the mighty "Storm In My Eyes" (which has already featured on "BBC Introducing for Coventry & Warwickshire") is perhaps the most potent of the songs in terms of sitting in a musical landscape which is familiar to Satsangi fans and is up there with their finest work, though this time adding a much more orchestral sound to what we are used to. "Blackbird" too fits into the canon neatly, being melodic and humane & the lightest touch of the four tracks, yet don't mistake lightness of feel for the same in sincerity or philosophy.. the transition to "My Regeneration" is thus a startling one & if we got seduced by "Blackbird" then we rudely awakened into the harsh realities of life.
These are strange times for Satsangi and there can be little doubt that whatever plans they had for development after 2018's superb ‘You Saw Something' album, those had to be binned. Yet the last two years have seen some interesting releases including trips back into their own catalogue & stripped back home recordings.
‘World Falling Down' is clearly central to their beliefs & values & a very significant release which has definitely moved them on: albeit not perhaps where they thought they were going back in 2019. They really have made a great virtue out of the challenges they faced and whether this marks a detour in their journey or the first steps along a new road, who can tell? It would be great if at least some of these songs could feature in their next live set (which I look forwards to), though I appreciate the difficulties in reproducing them all as you hear them in their splendour on the record.
Look out too for the visual aspects of the project, courtesy of long time collaborator, Paul Windridge.