"Naga (Part II)" by Flèche Love
The triumph of love and life over pain

"Naga (Part II)", on L-abe records, is the latest release from Swiss-Algerian performance artist Flèche Love (Amina Cadelli). Richard Marcus listened to the album and was struck by its emotional and intellectual honesty

While the seven songs on "Naga (Part II)" would see some classify the release as an EP, there's more content on this album than is often found on most two-disc sets – perhaps not in terms of length, but certainly in terms of its emotional and intellectual content.

Flèche Love is a Swiss-Algerian performance artist. She is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a typical popular music artist. Mercurial, intelligent songs emerging from a place of instinctual awareness aren't the type of material that generally hits the top of the charts. She digs deep into a well-spring of emotions, thoughts and memories to create pieces of art that stimulate the listeners' mind and emotions.

Unlike the sentimental, manipulative songs that pass for emotional content on most radio stations, Flèche Love's work is grounded in universal truths that resonate with her listeners. She speaks of personal trauma in a way anyone who has experienced pain of any kind can relate to.

While personal experiences may be the inspiration for some of her songs, it is never quite clear whether she is offering the events expressed as examples of what can happen or as actual past events. This type of objectivity makes her songs even deeper and more immersive because listeners aren't caught up in transferring an emotional response to the performer.

Inner source of power

Flèche Love (photo: Giulia Frigieri (An Algerian in Paris))
After four years with the Swiss band Kadebostany, Amina Cadelli (pictured here) left and launched her own solo project known as Flèche Love

But Flèche Love is certainly not all about pain. She is about the triumph of love and life over past pain and the power we achieve by overcoming it. On the final track of the album, "Bruja", she chants/sings, "Oh do you feel the energy that emanates from my wounds?/They are scared of me/They are scared of my power/Are you scared of my power?/Are you scared of your power?/Cause when you look at me it's you that you see."

The message is that we all have a source of power, we only have to dig deep enough within ourselves to find it. Flèche Love doesn't just talk/sing about it, she encourages us to embrace it. The art of using yourself as an example treads the fine line between creating something universal and self-flagellation, which is also a form of ego. The songs on Naga Part II could be used as a textbook example of how to create this type of art perfectly.

Because Flèche Love is a performance artist and not just a musician, it is sometimes essential to see her videos to really appreciate her songs. That’s not to say that the songs aren't strong enough to stand on their own merits, but that the visuals accompanying the songs add another layer to them and give listeners a deeper understanding of the material. They also heighten the listeners’ awareness of just what an accomplished artist Flèche Love is.

A great example of this is the second song on the record, "See Me Through". The song opens with Flèche Love singing accompanied by a chorus of voices. As the video begins we see water moving, and as the song progresses, the focus shifts so we see her sitting in a boat paddled by a mysterious masked figure.

With the exception of the song’s English-language chorus ("See me through/See me for what I am/See me through"),  the song is sung in Spanish. As the chorus starts , the music builds behind the lyrics to include an insistent drum beat. This, together with the mysterious oars-person, seems to be propelling Flèche Love on her journey. The words and the visuals create the impression of a person wanting to be seen for what she truly is – not the superficial packaging we all come in.

Layers of sound

Flèche Love performing on stage (photo: Woxilde)
"Like many gifted visual artists, Flèche Love is able to communicate complex emotions and stimulate the intellectual imagination of her listeners and viewers," writes Richard Marcus

As the video continues we see her leaving the boat and then kneeling on the ground so the masked oars-person can shave her head. This appears to be an act of renewal, of freedom, because once the process is done she begins a cathartic dance which seems to be celebrating the end of her journey or the beginning of the next phase in an ever-continuing process.

Like many gifted visual artists, Flèche Love is able to communicate complex emotions and stimulate the intellectual imagination of her listeners and viewers.

Musically, the songs are an incredible mixture of electronics and orchestrations. Layers of sound create textures over which her words flow.

At times, Flèche Love sings with an ethereal brightness while at other times, her voice drops to an earthy growl as she chants out lyrics like the words to an incantation. While in others this might seem like an affectation, in her case, it emphasizes how emotionally connected she is to her themes and her music: each syllable sounds like it's drawn from the depths of her soul and she has no control over how they make her voice sound.

While the songs are sung primarily in English, Flèche Love switches back and forth with ease between different languages within a single song. This multilingual approach helps the listener move beyond a literal interpretation of a song's lyrics to get to the emotion behind them.

Naga Part II by Flèche Love is a beautiful and haunting album that will stir listeners' emotions and make them think. It has an emotional and intellectual honesty that is far too rare in music and is a piece of art music-lovers will want to listen to over and over again.

Richard Marcus

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