Saturday Moon

by Chantal Acda

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1.
2.
3.
Disappear 06:57
4.
The Letter 04:32
5.
6.
Time Frames 04:42
7.
Wolfmother 04:55
8.
Waiting 06:20

about

I first heard Chantal Acda sing and play the early 2000’s in San Sebastian, Spain. I shared the bill that night with her group Sleeping Dog. After their set was finished and I had caught my breath, I thought of Sandy Denny and Cat Power and Van Morrison and every singer who had ever hijacked my tears and lifted me towards a light. She was that gifted, that unique and that honest and the ensuing years have only strengthened her gifts.

Chantal and I eventually joined forces in a trio with drummer Eric Thielemans that we named Distance, Light & Sky. If we were to assign one of those words, to each of the group’s band members, I would imagine the best fit for Chantal would be “sky.” Her favorite place in the world is Iceland, with its vast open-roof horizons. Her music at times echoes such spaces and the deep awe that they inspire. There is a hard earned sense of possibility in her songs. Even in the saddest ones, she won’t let us give up. She nudges us to keep searching until we find our home – even if it is in a far flung place. At the edge of what we know.

While Chantal’s three previous solo albums were immaculately produced by two luminaries of the so-called “post-classical” scene (Nils Frahm, Peter Broderick and Phill Brown respectively), “Saturday Moon” is a more feral child and is all the stronger for it. Caution is thrown to the wind and the emphasis is now on instinct and what is discovered from the get-your-hands-dirty process of just doing things. When I talked to Chantal about the album, she made it clear that this shift in tone and method was quite purposeful. She had decided to produce the album herself to protect the clarity and freedom of that vision:

“when I started this it was a very clear and very easy idea – still very organized in a way – one microphone, only me in the room. That’s it. Simple four minute songs for a change. But then I just felt lonely and I started connecting and reconnecting with people who I really love musically. Nobody producing and telling me to stop. I felt a little bit out of control and I loved it. It was a celebration of a part of me that is quite chaotic and not thinking and impulsive. And I guess a part of me that I didn’t touch musically much before.”

The first song and title track “Saturday Moon” feels liberated and bursting with ideas from its first notes onward. Drummer Eric Thielemans supple groove sets up Congolese guitarist Rodriguez Vangama’s gorgeous soukous flourishes which sets up the Pūwawau singers’s soaring vocalizations on the refrain. It is a free spirited mix of things, that maintains an elegant coherence because of Chantal’s always assured songwriting, arranging and vocal presence.

The album continues to spin and turn and upend preconceptions throughout its length. There are sonic surprises like Alan from Low’s guitar synth on “Disappear,” a song that ends in a tornado of electricity and also features backing vocals from Low bandmate Mimi. Atmospheric guitar legend Bill Frisell delicately converses with two tracks. Shahzad Ismaily of Tom Waits and Marc Ribot fame plays haunted six string fractures on one of the album’s darkest songs “Conflict of Minds”, together with Borgar Magnason (Sigur Rós, Björk).

There are eighteen musicians in total on the album. Strings, horns, contrabass and piano are also woven into the kaleidoscopic, eclectic mesh. It is a human-all-too-human balance of things. Clarity and randomness. Anger and elation. Loss and awakening. The personal and the communal.

Through all of the diverse sonic shapeshifting and emotional ground covered on “Saturday Moon” Chantal may have at last discovered her natural musical home. One that includes many sympathetic collaborators but at the same time is not boxed in by other people’s agendas and expectations. She told me:

“with my previous records I still had this idea that they should be done in a style with which I could fit in somewhere. I always felt in between, but with every record I thought maybe I can now fit in? But with this one I didn’t want to fit in, so that opened up so many options. The sky is the limit because I am not going to fit in anyway.”

For a moment she paused, and then continued:

“this record taught me things about myself that I was not fully aware of and I think it all came together with the lockdown. My need to work with other people was really necessary and it became a sort of celebration of that kind of musical contact – something that’s way deeper than what I have with my very close friends when we are talking. I have been collaborating a lot. It has always been present, but I never really knew why it is I look for certain musicians to do something. Now I know.”

credits

released March 26, 2021

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Glitterhouse Records Beverungen, Germany

It started as a fanzine, in 1981. Deep in the middle of nowhere, in a hick town in Germany. Soon after, Glitterhouse was a record label, too. And a mailorder. And suddenly, in 1984, GLITTERHOUSE RECORDS became a profession.

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