Samana - All One Breath
Album Review by Captain Stavros
Andy Warhol once said, “you should fall in love with your eyes closed” which is what I enjoy, and is probably my favourite part, about listening to music. Had I seen or read anything about Samana before hitting a streaming link blind, in all honesty, I would’ve dismissed them entirely. Rebecca and Franklin, even through a screen, exude a pungent patchouli folk vogueness that’s so aesthetically and symmetrical disarming, it’s borderline revolting. If you can get beyond the skin-deep Joshua Tree-ness of the pair though, you’ll find a rewarding album worth celebrating in All One Breath, even though it’s a cringey as fuck title too.
‘Samana was realised in the heart of a mountainous forest, during a year-long journey Rebecca Rose and Franklin Mockett undertook across the natural wilderness and distant cities of Eastern Europe.’ Just when you thought the cringefest was over, out comes the press blurb tickling the back of your throat like a feather at a Roman vomitorium. If publicity was the feather, then surely the title track ‘Meloncholy Heat’ are the twowords twisting up your guts to form the muscular contractions in your throat that spew forward the bile drenched heaves from depths within. Oh, ye faithful (few) readers, please hear me when I say, puking is very much part of the process with this one. You’ll want to hurl out all your negative preconceptions, because within the few first bars of this cut, I was actually deeply concerned with how unsettled my stomach was becoming again. What would happen if the rest of the album wouldn’t hold up to this opener’s splendour? I anxiously serpentined my way through the remaining tracks and irritatingly unclenched with relief, it was solid the whole way through (more toilet humour averted at great personal discomfort here, you’re welcome). If a voice was smoke, Rebecca would by thy name.
Rebecca’s chops are cradled nicely in Franklin’s multi-instrumental talents and between the album’s main theme, shrugging off time, “I’ve nothing but time”. Perhaps it’s the destruction of time forming in its wake that fosters the unhurried pleasure for the tone of the album. Samana, much like the rest of us a few years back, found themselves at a crossroads. Faced with an indefinite lockdown, they could’ve headed back to civilisation or have chosen isolation in the middle of rural Wales whittling down 60 songs to 10 for their new album. With only a boot full of instruments and a tape-deck, they battened down the hatches and set to work on the latter.
A few tracks in ‘The Spirit Moving’, is one of three six-minute tracks. It washes over you, picking up the pace only just, in a seduction between snake and charmer. The opening lyrics are completely unintelligible, sounding more like a moan from an animal in heat than lyrics sung. It is, in a word, seductive. But deconstructing the sounds that make up this album, whether it be voice, piano, (slide) guitars, a five-piece drum set, a bass and tambourine, won’t help you understand the pleasures within, any more than letting the air out of a balloon will. This number truly “moves like shadow without form” the way one’s hips roll on horseback at a canter.
‘The Beach’ and ‘Patience’ (patience being arguably the beachier sounding of the two) are both freer, lighter and looser tracks. ‘Patience’ has a primo hook and solo too. Nearing the end of the cut, a lethargic electric guitar pivots into a ballad-ish barrel (a solo in surfer’s clothing). ‘All One Breath’ follows, showcasing processed and haunting vocals, piercing through the hammering of piano strings. It’s a track that neither loosely holds the reigns nor tugs too much between light or shadow, in a way that reminds me of how quickly thrashing waters still. ‘Begin Again’ rounds off the album in a subconscious suggestion, ending with a soft hush. From start to finish, All One Breath is a solid follow up to Samana’s debut album Awakening. I’d go so far as saying it’s a desert island disc.
All One Breath is out now with a tour kicking off this month across the U.K.
Samana play London’s Paper Dress on the March 23