IF YOU ARE READING THIS REVIEW IN RELATION TO THE BONUS TRACKS VERSION 2013 YOU MAY LIKE TO KNOW THAT THE 2 EXTRA TRACKS ARE 'INTRODUCTION' AND 'INTERLUDE' SEPARATED FROM THE TRACK THAT FOLLOWS WHICH IS THEREFORE NOW SHORTER.
This girl has a vision; she is a musician in a real innovative sense. Original, individual and quirky - think Laurie Anderson, Joanna Newsom, or further back even Bjork or Robert Wyatt. Enchanting, and blissful at times - think Cocteau Twins, LaBradford, Joanna Newsom again, and dream pop generally. Of course it sounds like none of these specifically, but there's ambience, found sounds, fragile vocals, vocoders, textures, atmospherics, melody - it's all a bit woozy and 'other' and almost like God Speed You Black Emperor here and there. Some samples initially seem sudden - just dropped in and clunky but forget it was done in a bedroom using free Audacity software (with a few uppish sound levels) and just listen. There is nothing market driven here, no demographic is being targeted. This record makes its own rules. Just trying to find something to compare it with emphasises its uniqueness. I've not heard follow ups Ekstasis or Loud City Song - is it possible to have too much of a good thing? To clarify the two available CD issues (at different prices), the Night School / Leaving Records CD Tragedy (2012) and Domino CD (Tragedy: 2013 Bonus Edition) appear to be the same, one using the front and the other the back cover as publicity. I ordered the 2013 Bonus Edition which apart from a Domino label on the clear wrap had a 2012 Night School / Leaving Records cover. It has 6 tracks - the Introduction and Interlude are simply embedded in the following track rather than separate as listed. The CD text title: 'Tragedy: Assets' adds to the confusion. So why the bonus?
The best way to attempt to describe this wonderful album is as ageless, doomy romanticism. To describe the sound is difficult - the first track alone doesn't hear from Julia for the first few minutes as she weaves a stunning collage of found sound and field recordings; all lonely honking fog horns and vintage operatics.
Along the whole trip I'm variously reminded of Julee Cruise/Angelo Badalamenti, Kate Bush, Cocteau Twins, Micro-House but as disparate as these influences may sound it all meshes together miraculously to create a gauzy atmosphere which envelopes you like mist. A beautifully accomplished record which rewards with repeat listens and never loses its 'shock of the new'. Where else could you hear Baroque flourishes, choral song, vocoders and drum machines all in one place?!
From beginning to end this album is just sublime. If you're a fan of Lali Puna, Daughter, Polly Scattergood etc you will adore this as I do. This was my first album by this artist and won't be my last. A fan for life guaranteed.