We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, unfortunately we can’t be at every concert and we can’t review all of them. That is exactly why we got so excited when we saw this review of last Friday’s main event, the concert of Cesair combined with the Dutch album release concert of Irfan!
These two bands play a very deep style of music, heavily laden with emotion, and that is exactly how Oskar has reviewed it! His words will take you on a trip alongside the bands, through mystical times and epic tales, and they describe the sensation of the night perfectly!
Having experienced the wonder and amazement ourselves several times, it is awesome to read how someone else is moved by the music, especially someone as knowledgeable about the tales and meanings behind the songs as Oskar.
We are honoured that he offered his review for us to share with you and hope you will enjoy reading it as much as we have. Thank you again, Oskar!
Cesair and Irfan
Last Friday I did something I have not really done since I became father: I went out. The night before, I mobilized some of my dear dancing friends to attend a CD-release party with two music groups that create music that has become precious to me.
The first band is called Cesair. Their music is not very easy to classify. They tend to describe it as ‘epic’, because of the drama and the emotion they aim to transpose from a variety of ancient myths and legends. In 2013 they released their first album Dies, Nox et Omnia, which I think is one of the most advanced début albums I know of. The songs on it are very complexly composed, while still very symphonic and beautiful. The musicians are very talented and versatile, capable of playing multiple uncommon historical instruments as well as better known contemporary instruments. Their lead singer Monique van Deursen is able to flawlessly (as far as I can assess, of course) sing in a number of exotic languages, ranging from Swedish to Gaelic, to Arabic.
The themes of their music also dwell in my domain of interest. The Wanderings of Oisín, for example (though it was not played at the release party), is inspired upon W.B. Yeats’ recounting of the romantic Irish legend of Oisín through the fairy realm. I once wrote an essay on Yeats, because of his rich imagination and understanding of myth and magic. The song has a nice galloping cadans in it, which evokes the image of Oisín’s horse, that prevents the heroes’ feet from touching mortal soil.
A song that actually was played Friday was Ishtar. I especially like the hammered dulcimer in it, played by my friend Fieke van den Hurk. Cesair performed the song together with the other band Irfan. It is about Ishtar, the Akkadian goddess of both love and war (incidentally, I wrote my bachelor thesis on Ishtar and other goddesses with these combined attributes). The song is very sensual and evokes images of the sacred temple in ancient Babylon.
The following song was called Enuma Elish. It is the Babylonian creation story as we know it from clay tablets. The clip will speak for itself:
Cesair’s music is rich in beauty and evocation. And I think it deserves a bigger audience than it currently has. While the musicians were very sincerely grateful to the more-than-hundred people who came just to see them perform, I think many more people deserve to learn of their music. The music is very capable of moving the body, sometimes sensual, sometimes powerful. At times, it can also move the soul.
The following song is called Atiny Naya, it is an Arab ode to music. It was the final song played at the gig, together with Irfan. (I especially like the dropping of the beat at 2:18).
I have known the Bulgarian group Irfan for some years now, and I’ve always found their music very compelling. For reference, it is often compared with Dead Can Dance (but I do not know their music, save for the song that was covered by Irfan). Irfan’s music is, I think, less accessible than Cesair’s. Irfan’s music resonates on a deeper level, I think. Cesair’s music first moves the body, and spirit can follow, Irfan’s music touches the soul and the body may follow the motion. It is not too surprising that Irfan roots in Gnosticism.
Irfan’s performance is always very modest. The musicians seem stoic at times and they emanate much calmness (they seemed undisturbed by technical trouble). They always seem to be more in touch with their music than with the audience. But this never seems to matter, because when they play, the music is prevalent and takes the audience away. The music is very trance-like.
Irfan makes use of deep male vocals, sweeping female vocals, ethereal sound effects and traditional snare and wind instruments. I am very fond of their occidental and oriental sound. Most of their music is quite slow, though they also feature more sparkling and almost seductive songs.
The Golden Horn is one of the more lyrical songs. It is my personal favourite. (Unfortunately my car had broken down, so I depended on crappy public transport and had to leave during the performance of this ultimate dancing tune, only to find out that no bus would be leaving at that time…)
Irfan’s songs often bear a message. The Cave of Swimmers, for example is about the discovery of a cave in the Sahara, wherein swimming people were depicted. The song is about the ephemeral nature aspect of our physical existence. Not even seas remain. The message is that we therefore should not focus so much on our personal existence, but should have a wider gaze.
Another song played was The Eternal Return. A song with a loving esoteric message and this Eastern sound that I’m so fond of.
There are many more songs I would have liked to share, but I hope to have sparked curiosity. I really enjoyed dancing to the music of both groups. They are manifesting beauty, and are re-enchanting our world in their own way.
– Samhildánach (Oskar)
– Picture by: Kees Stravers
About the author:
Oskar not only wrote this review, he also writes frequently about a range of topics that inspire him to do so on his blog Samhildánach, named after the Celtic sun god Lugh (one of his many names).
There you can learn about his many faceted life: Oskar teaches philosophy of life at a high school, holds a master’s degree in Theology and Religious Studies, and is specialized in Western Esotericism and Mysticism, which as an elevator pitch, he usually describes as “anything that has to do with magic”. And his has (many) other creative outlets you can learn about!