Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble at The Lantern, Bristol review

Former Stereolab frontwoman Laetitia Sadier brought her new collective Source Ensemble to Bristol's The Lantern venue. Josiah Hartley recalls the night.

Skiddle Staff

Last updated: 3rd May 2017.
Originally published: 27th Apr 2017

Image: Laetitia Sadier by Giulia Callino

While indie-pop experimentalists Stereolab have remained on an indefinite hiatus since 2009, Laetitia Sadier, the bands singer, has kept rather busy; having released three solo albums and collaborated with a wide breadth of artists including Tyler, the Creator, Atlas Sound and Adrian Younge.

Marking a new musical chapter in her adventurous solo career, the London-based musician recently released her new solo album Find Me Finding You and keeping with the album's themes of unity and togetherness, it’s her first record under the collective name of Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble.

Bristol’s Lantern venue saw Sadier upfront on guitar and lead vocals accompanied by her newly formed and multi-skilled band. The new outfit consisted of Nina Savary on keys, Emmanuel Mario on drums/percussion and synths and Xavi Munoz handling bass duties – although taking the unconventional approach of using a guitar and a myriad of FX pedals to achieve a distinct bass tone. Both Mario and Munoz have previously collaborated with Sadier in a live capacity as well as on 2014’s Something Shines LP.

The set, which was primarily drawn from the Find Me Finding You album, went off to a strong and upbeat start with the enthralling sounds of recent single ‘Undying Love for Humanity’. Sounding close to the classic Stereolab template, Sadier performed her ye ye-inspired vocals with the simple elegance, affirming why her compelling voice is so distinguishable. The accompaniment of the Source Ensemble forged an impressive sound that quickly grasped the audience’s full attention. 

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Renowned for her trademark lyricism - which tends to lean on socio-political themes, philosophy and more abstract ideas - Sadier introduced a track as “One about being lost in space”. It was certainly an apt description as it proved to have a transportational effect on the standing attendees, who responded by swaying their hips in unison with the music. Although the gig was listed as a seated show, more than half the audience were on their feet and near to the front of the venue’s stage.

Later highlights in the set included an astounding rendition of ‘Galactic Emergence’, a beautiful number where Sadier sang entirely in her native French as she gently strummed her guitar. A beatless combination of serene keyboard textures, jangly guitar chords and plucked melodic basslines, the splendour of the track appeared to whisk the crowd away to some kind of utopian dimension. 

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While the jovial fan favourite ‘Find Me The Pulse of The Universe’ - taken from 2012’s Silencio LP - went down equally well, and found the hitherto composed, but engaged audience dancing with all the joy in the world. Even Sadier was taken aback by the dance floor frolics; and come the end of the song, praised them on their “good moves”. 

Set closer, ‘Double Voice, Extra Voice’, was executed to spellbinding effect and also produced a similar lively reaction in the crowd. The band started off at a smouldering pace with Sadier’s infectious vocals gliding across light tambourine hits and heavenly chords, before Mario switched from synth to drums for the more driving second half of the song that drifted into epic post-rock terrain. 

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It made for a superb end to a coherent set list, but of course there was room for an encore in the shape of ‘Then, I Will Love You Again’, which culminated in sustained applause from the appreciative audience. 

As well as the brilliant musicianship amongst the quartet throughout the evening, one of the most remarkable aspects of the 70 minute performance was the stunning en masse vocal harmonies delivered with aplomb during most of the songs. The dynamic pairing of male and female voices added an extra sonic richness and unifying balance – with the latter seeming to play a big part in the way that the Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble craft music together. 

Although many traces of Stereolab are evident in the music of Sadier’s talented new outfit, the new songs showcased stood out on their own merit, and possessed a developing quality that belongs to both her as a solo artist and the Source Ensemble as a whole.

Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble comes to Preston's The Continental venue on May 26th