Sans Soleil – Hellnova (Album Review)

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Sans Soleil first came to my attention with their debut single You Got Me which matched a classic Loleatta Hollaway sample with a heavy-weight breakbeat. The debut album from this German-based collective comes as a surprise then as it sits firmly in the same bracket as Bonobo, Zero 7 and other blissed-out beat makers.

Hellnova comes into being with opener Welcome To My World which swirls and swoops with menace and discord before Dawn Of Mankind offers a little more delicacy and beauty with loopy pianos, bass and strings that builds in to a proper nodder. Mentalonliest solves the query anyone may have had about where the aforementioned Zero 7 left their songwriting book and their mojo – it seems it was Hannover. Then it’s back to the moodiness with Deep In The Dark that skits and skips with a jazzy feel that becomes even more involved on Where Have You Been. This track though has cheeky little sting in the tail as it freaks out into a 808 jam.

A welcome vocal outburst comes next with fellow Confunktion Records signing Lady Emz on mike duties for No Looking Back. This is followed up by title track Hellnova that ups the pace 100% with its dnb beats and sax riff that drives it on and on. The cheerily titled Seaside Suicide features organ and more sax honks over some hammer-driven beats.

Gears change again for Solo with another vocal, this time from Paco Mendoza a Berlin-based DJ Vadim associate. The Deadness Of My Town has a hugely cinematic vibe that swirls away into a nightmarish squall before easing out. Lady Emz features again on The Day After, a breathy melancholy track that then leads into Sans Soleil, the tune this musical project gets its name from, with violin provided by Hungarian player Laszlo Toth. After this huge beast of a tune it needs the beauty of And I Love Her to provide a little light relief for us and closes Hellnova perfectly.

This album brings in musicians and influences from around Europe but is mainly the quality of its beats and production that stands out the most. Big, soundtracky and deep it should be an essential purchase for anyone who is a fan of Cinematic Orchestra or David Holmes or two monsters mentioned at the start of this piece. Hellnova is out now on Confunktion Records with a 250 limited vinyl along with CD and download available from Sans Soliel’s Bandcamp along with the likes of Red Eye and Juno.

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