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Witchy Goings On,
This review is from: Halfaxa (Audio CD)
One more electro-princess in the tower? Yeah why not! This time a Canadian.
Grimes (aka Claire Boucher) turns in a pretty decent set with 'Halfaxa'.
Even though it's largely impossible to understand what she's singing about
she creates a mood (mostly one cast in shades of grey) and isn't afraid to
run with it. Her half-heard shadowy vocals weave in and out of, or hover
over, fairly simple rhythmic arrangements draped with layers of spooky synth
and spectral harmonies. The voice is continuously swathed in a shroud of reverb
so it's actually quite difficult to ascertain her true technical capabilities.
Sometimes high, sometimes low but always with her indistinct diction stroking
rather than striking the words, she must at least be admired for her determination
to keep meaning and lucidity at arms' length. Despite her wilful obscurantism
I seem to be growing quite fond of it in a give-the-girl-a-chance kind of way!
It is impossible to listen to these sixteen tracks without being aware of
the mark that Kate Bush has made on Ms Boucher's muse. It's the high floaty
notes which do it I guess and there are an awful lot of them to contend with.
Sometimes they float ethereally in the air like wind-sprites (the woods around
these parts are full of the pesky things!) as they do in the rather lovely 'rask'
and at others getting quite frisky in an almost dance-friendly kind of way on a
track like 'sagrad *pekpaCH***' (approx - sorry I don't have the relevant font
to ellucidate further!) which, following a pedestrian introduction, settles
down into a nicely spirited groove. Elsewhere, as with the splendidly mordant
'world princess', she dumps the rule book completely and dives off into hippie
hinterland with brave abandon. It truly is a strangely discombobulating sonic
experience with its mad-as-a-march-hare vocal harmonies and occasional but
equally disconcerting whistles (think Clangers!) and scratches. Totally loopy
but curiously engaging nonetheless! Kind-of queasy in a good way.
'My Sister Says The Saddest Things' might have made more sense if we could
comprehend what exactly her sister had said but the dark mood of the piece
may well be an indication that relationships were sometimes fraught in the
Boucher household! 'Devon' on the other hand is almost frisky in comparison;
a sort-of cha-cha-heels-Enya-meets-spaghetti-western confection (sorry it's
about as close as I can get by way of explanation!) which turns out to be one
of the album's most accessible compositions. 'Hallways' is chock-full of pixies
up to no good as pixies are wont to and final track 'Favriel' creates
an entirely new genre out of thin air. Let's just call it 'Witch Skiffle'!
Full marks for uncompromising weirdness. Ms Boucher may well be one to watch.