cast adrift in an open dream: chrissie caulfield on amenità

November 17, 2015 at 12:12 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 2 Comments
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Amenità – Rêverie (CD-r, Phantasma Disques, PD-128, edition of 75 or download)

reverie

Just to be sure of myself with this review, I looked up the word ‘reverie’ in the dictionary. Dictionary.com gave me

4. Music. an instrumental composition of a vague and dreamy character,

while my facsimile copy of Samuel Johnson’s 1755 opus (which opened at the correct page first time, rather spookily) has

Loose music, irregular thought, revery is when ideas float in our mind, without reflection or regard of the understanding.

Amenità’s album of that name certainly has the dreamlike character but I suspect she has great regard for the music’s understanding – and it’s certainly not vague or loose in any way. Yes, the textures often feel washy and dreamy but I get the impression that everything is here for a purpose. Even the order in which you listen to these tracks can have a profound effect on how the whole is perceived. I am the last person to recommend that anyone listens to an album on ‘shuffle’ but I did have to leave off listening to it once and started again in the middle by mistake and thought I’d got the wrong playlist.

If you start where you should, with ‘Partita Lacrimosa’, it will drop you gently into the underworld of Amenità’s slightly nightmarish dreams. Eastern strings combined with panting sounds and weeping, slightly rough, synth tones set the scene as the panned, echo-heavy vocal whisperings come in. Now you’re ready to be totally subsumed into her dreamworld. If you start on ‘Hauntingly Beautiful’ as I did once, then you have less chance to acclimatise. Oh it starts with the dreamy, breathy vocals that are a feature of the album, but the disturbing guitar riffs will disorient you and put you in an altogether much more unsettled mood such that ‘Distorted Memory’ will probably make you scream out loud. So be careful out there, these nightmares can wake you up with a nasty bump.

For me that piece, ‘Distorted Memory’, is the crowning glory of this release. It has a fragmented, broken music box playing Brahms’ Lullaby in such a way that will probably stop you falling asleep to the original ever again. Its notes are the basis of the rest of the music even as it gets stuck in a smaller tighter loops and underpins the whirring synths and distorted vocalisations that become the main feature. When the track finally finishes, you’re left with just the music box playing two runs repeatedly over the crashing of waves.

If you start at the wrong place in the album then ‘Lover’s Grief’ will be in the wrong place too. This track contains a precursor to ‘Distorted Memory’ with the music box pinging gently under the windy noises and vocals that gently engulf it. ‘Lover’s Grief’ is essentially a drone piece with a low C underpinning it until three minutes in, when it slowly wobbles and fades out leaving you cut loose, alone with the washy synths and vocals. Cast adrift in an open dream.

Sitting between these tracks is ‘Invoking Kali’, which unfolds almost as a quasi-religious ceremony. Kali, being the Hindu goddess of empowerment, is an appropriate deity for my series of reviews of material from female:pressure I think. The opening gongs (or whatever they are, excuse my ignorance of ritual percussion) are a powerful introduction and quite a departure from the mostly washy texture of the album. However we’re soon back into waves of vocal chanting that make up most of the rest of the track. If anything this one goes on a little too long for my taste. It’s the longest on the album at over six minutes, the rest are mostly around four, and I tend to get impatient around five minutes in. Though I never was a fan of ritual chanting. Her other six minute track,  the opener ‘Partita Lacrimosa’, gets through the four minute barrier with a cunning gear shift around 4:30 that keeps the interest up.

This album definitely has ‘a sound’, and you need to be in tune with that sound to get on with it. If washy synths and slightly incoherent vocals aren’t your thing then you might tire of it before the end of the first track. If you’re prepared to give into the textures and let it wash over you for 40 minutes then it will reward you. It’s slightly unforgiving of laptop speakers though, all that processed white noise can get quite wearing on the ears when listening on cheap trebly equipment – I strongly recommend that you break out the good headphones or studio monitors, then you’ll be fine.

A special mention here for ‘The Quiet Death’ which has some lovely mechanical-ish clanking going on. As I may have established by now, I love an industrial beat – although this one gets subsumed by the washes, synth drones and vocals half way in, the legacy it leaves on the track never quite deserts you.

There’s a remix of the title track on this album, and I’m normally wary of remixes as they generally say far more about the remixer than the remixee. This is still true of Levana Sorrow’s remix of ‘Rêverie’ but it’s very sensitive to the style of the original while adding some extra ideas that I rather like. I think this is down to her music being of a similar style to Amenità’s, judging by her soundcloud page. Apparently she has an album due out soon on the same label, so I’m looking forward to that.

—ooOoo—

Phantasma Disques Bandcamp

Phantasma Disques Bigcartel

female:pressure

2 Comments »

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  1. Don’t care much for piano records on whole but Alec’s guitar and smeared & blurry ambiance stuff’s first rate. Thanks for the tip.


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