June 13, 2008

Sébastien Schuller - Happiness

Artist:Sébastien Schuller
Album: Happiness
Year: 2005
Genre:Electronica, Downtempo, Indie Pop

Sébastien Schuller is a classically trained percussionist who became an accomplished and eclectic multi-instrumentalist over the years, composing and interpreting his own work, backed by a few hand picked friends, including Paul Hanford (Brothers in Sound, Sancho).

"Who, or what, is Sebastien Schuller hiding from? In almost all of the songs on Happiness, his lyrics are hidden behind something, some filter or synth. In his video for “Weeping Willow,” and on his website, he wears a mask. Well, all good artists need some sort of affectation, and Schuller is one of them. If he feels the need to hide from us, well, as long as he’s making his music, then so be it. There is a feeling of happiness that emanates from his music, which is a combination of synth beats, slow piano, bells, and acoustic guitar. But he comes at the concept in an odd way. The sound is slow and the titles of his songs sad: “Tears Coming Home,” “Sleeping Song,” and “Alone You Walk.”
Happiness is reminiscent in some ways of Moby’s Play, especially in the way it is not heavy on vocals, and in the way that it will probably still be meaningful in ten years. It is also very eclectic: sometimes it sounds Celtic, and then, in the same song, I get the sense that I’m listening to the music under the sea. Sometimes there is a specific robotic beat and a soft, ghostly voice, then things speed up and Schuller sings without any changes to his voice. Actually, we don’t really hear him until track seven out of eleven (“Tears Coming Home.”) It can be easy to make the assumption that if we don’t hear an artist’s voice, they don’t have a good one (for instance, I’m not really sure what Julian Casablancas’ voice sounds like, so . . .). But Schuller has a sweet, Tom Chaplin (Keane) quality to it, making me wish we could hear it for what it is more often.
Oh, well. Happiness is what it is, and it is a beautiful peek into the soul of a clearly creative man.
— Amber Henson"


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