on 19 June 2014
I'll never understand how this album was overlooked, this is a bone fide classic which should have sent her overground into hugedom and had her as revered as Bjork. It is simply a stunning piece of work where Nicolette has been musically assisted by some very credible producers including Plaid, 4 Hero and Alex Reese. The music is certainly leftfield favouring the kind of digital lunacy that Warp records used to specialise in. Then there are her vocals, coming over like a modern day torch singer, the juxtaposition of her gorgeous, rich voice with underground beats works brilliantly, the nearest thing to this would be Bjork's work with Marc Bell from LFO which at times treads similar sonic territory. Her lyrics are modern and edgy and dare I say capture the zeitgeist of the paranoid time during which it was written. I can not fault this album, it is a seriously accomplished piece of work and with the price it's going for on Amazon, definitely a compulsory purchase, it's not too late, get it while you can.
on 17 September 2003
One-time collaborator of Massive Attack (most memorably on the superb 'Sly' from the 'Protection' album), this is Nicolette's debut solo album, released in 1996. Something of a mixed bag, with some great tracks, but a few clunky ones, and a couple of bog-standard fillers, this album nevertheless merits checking out, if only for the superb 'Don't Be Afraid', 'We'll Never Know' and 'No Government'. These three tracks alone are worthy of spending the dough to track this down.
Listeners expecting the relatively easy ride of Massive Attack are in for a shock - whilst there are some pretty chilled-out tracks, the majority of the album is quirky, bass heavy and very, very uncommercial. Nicolette's unique, breathy vocal are similar to some of the old jazz chanteuses she so obviosuly admires (especially Billie Holiday), but the music is far from jazz. If a parallel can be drawn it is with 'Post' and 'Homogenic' era Bjork, the eclectic nature of some of the songs here rivals the more bonkers moments on those two records.
Of t he aforementioned highlights, 'No Government' had the potential to be a massive single, but somehow flopped. The eerie, dischordant intro is quickly replaced by a mahoosive stomping bass and a diatribe about modern politics which wouldn't sound out of place on a Billy Bragg album.
Of the other two, Don't Be Afraid' is a superb opener - Equivalent to 'Kid A' era Radiohead with its electronic buffoonery and menacing vocals, whilst 'We'll Never Know' is a well-crafted bit of agit-pop with some percussion production that sounds similar to Plaid's best work.
However, the album is not without its faults. Some of the tracks are sparse in the extreme and appear to be little more than attempts to pad the album out. This is foolish, because it ends up turning what could be a classic into simply a very good album.
Digging around in the one of The Wolfcave's darker
and dustier corners I stumbled over this. I'd forgotten
that I had ever heard (let alone owned) it! Welcome back.
Nicolette is Nicolette Swinton and her album 'Let No-One
Live Rent Free In your Head' was released in 1996.
I am amazed, having rediscovered it, just how fresh and
challenging it still sounds.
The album isn't always an easy listen and is equally
difficuly to pigeonhole. Broadly speaking she has
invested in a brand of electronica which is unafraid
of experiment and innovation. Her collaborators, are
happy to accompany her to the edge of sonic reason to
bring her musical visions to life.
'Nervous', for example, is a killer-track. Produced by
Alec Empire it is an edgy piece of distorted drum and bass
brimming over with tooth-jarring electricity.
Nicolette's fragile voice weaves in and out of the complex
arrangement with cool confidence. The contrast is riveting!
That it is followed by a haunting re-working of Pete Seger's
great anti-war song 'Where Have All The Flowers Gone?' is
an ambiguous and moving side-step. It's place in these
troubled times still has enormous resonance and relevance.
'Beautiful Day' is a pared-down piece of slick jazzy sensuality.
Nicolette delivers a stunning vocal performance within the
parameters of Plaid's minimal hot-night-in-the-city production.
She shows-off the rich lower-reaches of her range as well as
the more familiar stratospheric upper register.
It is a wonderfully limber and nicely loopy instrument!
Some of the lyrical ideas seems to have arisen from a deep
and painful place. 'Always' is full of disturbingly personal
images of loss and impermanence. Even the final statement
"I'm flying like a bird" is a bitter-sweet and ambivalent plea
for love, hope and a little warmth in a cold, cold world.
The Utopian dream of 'No Government' still packs a punch.
A gentle anarchy of distinctly human proportion and purpose.
This engaging and viscerally affecting project continues
to deserve our attention, admiration and respect.