3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A Dynamic Duo,
This review is from: S/t (Audio CD)Soft Metals are singer Patricia Hall and electro-instrumentalist Ian Hicks.
They come from Portland, Oregon and I understand that they are an "item" as
well as a creative musical duo. Their album is gentle on the ear as far as
much of what passes for mechanically produced sound goes these days. It is
a largely gentle affair. The ten songs in the set are built around hypnotic
rhythmic patterns dressed up in swathes of shimmering synth washes but they
also possess an easy-to-digest pop sensibility too, some of which lends itself
to the possibility of dancing along like a dervish (the sprightly and somewhat
Erasure-like 'Voices' chugs along merrily and is a particularly good example).
Ms Hall's waifish voice rarely emerges from the dense clouds of reverb and
although not an especially powerful instrument it is nonetheless approachable.
The wordless 'Celestial Call' recalls to some extent Elizabeth Fraser's dreamy
performances with Cocteau Twins in its disembodied and ethereal ululations.
There are occasional harder, darker moments here and there. The driving beats
of 'The Cold World Melts' allow her to don the guise of femme fatale for a
minute or six and she seems to be enjoying the opportunity to let her hair down!
The brief juddering instrumental 'Hold My Breath' gives her a short break
before returning with good grace on the scintillatingly simple 'Eyes Closed'.
All the tracks have a reassuringly home-made, low-tech quality which still
manage to punch way above their weight. With a blissful disregard to genre
competition Soft Metals plow their own furrow with good grace and alacrity.
The spirit of Tom Tom Club seems alive and well in the almost-jolly bop-along
rhythms of 'Pain' and penultimate track 'Do You Remember' positively buzzes
with good-natured eighties' energy and enthusiasm. (Loving that bass line!)
Xeno & Oaklander would do well to listen and learn!