"Ultraviolet" by SatsangiReview
Out now (in fact released yesterday to mark World Music Day) is the latest Satsangi song, namely "Ultraviolet". Given what it sounds like (more of which in a moment), I'm not surprised that they recorded it with John Rivers at Woodbine Street in Leamington, a man with many years' of experience in capturing power, passion & volume with clarity & no loss of those attributes.
I must admit that following Satsangi & their music since I last caught them live has been a tortuous & often slightly bewildering experience for me. That's not necessarily all a bad thing as predictability is anathema to me. The best way I can describe it without taking over what's supposed to be a review of "Ultraviolet" is to refer you to my reviews of their releases over the last few years: when a collective which was doing so well were unable to convene to make music & so what were often home recordings of a stripped down lineup (often just Su & Johnny) put out music as "Satsangi" but not only did the circumstances of making music take them far from the powerful dynamics expected of the band, but the times we were all living through shaped the content: so we got what Johnny describes as "..quite deep stuff, head music, very abstract and spacey..." This is fair enough of course, fully emotionally appropriate for the period of time & honestly consistent with the band's interest in Eastern philosophies and world views: just not what we expected from them & frankly almost certainly not what would have come out had the pandemic not hit.
Interestingly enough, as they move forwards, they do so under the aegis of a new label: Mr Babu of Mumbai & New York. This association apparently dates back to 2008 (it was responsible for their being written about in "Rolling Stone" for example) but going forward, not only brings practical advantages such as the label re-releasing their back catalogue albums & videos and commissioning an animated video for "Ultraviolet", but more strategically, links the band into a more global music network, suitable for what they are all about.
The song, as hinted at above, is something of a reaction to the contemplative hiatus. Again, the band say "..it had to hit the gut, to be physical, tough, and loud!" and as such not only blows the cobwebs away as they return to the band life, but reminds the audience (if we needed reminding) of what they sounded like. I think many people would perceive Satsangi as being in their element live & "Ultraviolet" would fit neatly into the canon of live fan favourites.
It's actually their rawest & dirtiest song in many years, as if they were in some respects looking to revisit their roots, find out what motivated & excited them about music & prioritising that over the accumulated smoothness of technique which over the years had imbued their music. What also struck me was where Su's voice sits in the mix…. A phenomenon of considerable renown, for years the band & producers seem confident that however loud & belligerent the instruments cold get, Su had the power to be heard through it all and so placed her amongst the racket. This time, she's there at the front. The messages are ones they obviously want to get across, so they are put in the shop window. It's pretty much all value driven content with Su taking aim at a series of targets which have raised her/their ire & then blasting away at them one by one.
The playing, by the way, is slightly different in lineup to that which characterised Satsangi pre-COVID19: though everyone associated with "Ultraviolet" has been in the band for a long while. The departure of bassist Ben Clempson has seen guitarist David Holland playing bass parts (he'll also be adding digital sounds live too) with Su still on vocals, Johnny guitar, Richard Heath saxophone, keyboards & backing vocals and Rob Barrett on drums as ever. So we still hear the power & the potency, laced through with Richard's own brands of provocative art rock to put paid to complacency in the listener.
This is prime form Satsangi back and snarling in your face with a song as alluring & yet as potentially dangerous as its name… can you take it?