Although having only formed mid-2013, Serafyn have quickly been making a name for themselves as Switzerland’s hardest working folk troupe, busking at nearly every European venue and street corner they can. And though Quantum Leap may be the five-piece’s first major foray into recording after releasing two singles last year, both of which appear here, it proves them to be as evocative on record as they are live.
Centering on the dynamic balance between Anna Erhald’s earthbound vocals and guitar and ornate harmonising vocals and cellos, Seraphyn weave intimate chamber folk steeped in bittersweet melancholy. There is a distinctly wintery feel to the songs here, with Blue For A While’s moody, spiralling rhythm seemingly soundtracking falling snow while the mournful cello that ushers in Far From Reason evokes trees stripped bare of leaves.
Despite occasional moments of syrupy tweeness, there is a bitter root to Seraphyn’s songs. Anja Waldkircher’s lyrics examine emotional dependency on Far From Reason (“You only make me feel better at your worst / And you only make me feel loved if I nurture you”) and while Quantum Leap’s assertion “No one is years too young to have a bright idea” should be empowering, the minor key tension and Erhard’s plaintive delivery add a tinge of desperation and regret to the song’s refrain “Everyday expect a quantum leap”, as days of waiting turn into years.
The only moment of unbridled optimism comes with former single Go Down North, which builds from Erhard’s solo guitar and vocals into a yearning communal hymn, replete with warm vocal harmonies while drums and double bass rumble like a heartbeat in the background. And though metaphysical ballad Universe starts from a place of disillusion, solace is found in the interconnectedness of all things, closing the EP on the optimistic observation, “I am just one of many ones, but I am a part of it all” as the evocative vocal harmonies hang crystalline in the air.
Although not quite a quantum leap in terms of sonic invention, Quantum Leap does bring forward a strong quintet with a quiet confidence and direction to their wintery folk that is worthy of your attention.
Review by: James MacKinnon
Quantum Leap is released April 6th 2015 (International).