Seadem - Skhôlè [The Eastern Front - 2011]Seadem's debut album, Skhôlè, was recorded three years' ago by Ombeline Duprat, a French singer and multi-instrumentalist, and subsequently released last year on the Israeli label, The Eastern Front. It firmly ploughs a neo-classical field, ripe in piano-based folksy arrangements gaudily decorated with synth strings and bells, clarinet, flute and light military drum programming.
It's an overly familiar music thanks to its consistent use on fantasy computer games and B-movies to provide rousing, marching soundtracks for sword-wielding warriors as they brave the elements to fight off orcs and demons before rescuing a wench from an evil lord's clutches. But the key difference here to other work in this field is Duprat's wholly operatic singing style which, although remaining entirely congruent with the gothic atmosphere and seeming technically strong, is liable turn off those who find opera's stubborn and pompous enunciations too shrill or affected to stomach.
The lyrics are mostly sung in English, telling tales of a vampire's encounters, moon-lit dreams, lost little girls, despair and death. It also bears the occasional erotic allusion such as "I kiss you in the blue dark deep of my pants", or "My veils are hiding your aches and showing another", leaving one feeling like some eloquence has been lost in translation.
So while the production is bold, bright and balanced, the voice strong and the music clearly signifying the currently popular gothic fantasy genre, it's all carried off in such a hackneyed way that it’s hard to take seriously and, consequently, difficult to immerse oneself in Seadem's netherworld.Russell Cuzner