Transparent vinyl LP + download in screen printed sleeve on Atelier Ciseaux / La Station Radar.
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- Split by Ela Orleans / Dirty Beaches
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Here's a really cool split LP from a couple of the more interesting and listenable experimental weirdos around right now. Great screen printed photo-collage covers with a sexy woman in handcuffs on the front, too. On the Dirty Beaches side we've got some hazy, shambling dream pop. When he gets his drum machine out the obvious comparison is Suicide, but a lot of this stuff has far more minimal rhythms, with the main atmosphere being one of reverb-drenched guitar and mumbled vocals (although lots of this side is actually instrumental) over lots of tape hiss. Musically the influences seem to range from Buddy Holly to Ennio Morricone to the aforementioned Suicide. The lo-fi recording makes it sound like some kind of lost experimental record from the '60s, and sometimes it can get a bit grating as many of the ideas seem underdeveloped but there are some really good moments here to reward the more patient among you. It's the Ela Orleans side of the record that's really caught my attention, though. Her brand of otherworldly lo-fi is totally unique and wonderful. It opens with a simple but beautiful piano piece before dropping into the ethereal ballad 'Neverend' with its weird processed tropicalia guitar sound, which is totally beautiful. Apparently this one and a couple of others on her side were written by Simon Hayward, but I'm not sure if that's just the lyrics or the music too. All the lyrics here seem to be somewhat collaborative - the sleeve claims, "All lyrics and juxtaposition of poems/short stories by Adolfo Bioy Casares, Simon Hayward, Sarah Teasdale, Elizabeth Browning, Edward Lear and Ela Orleans", so there you go. There's a real dreamlike feel to this side of the record without it ever sounding unfocused (which I think is ultimately my gripe with the Dirty Beaches side). Her arrangements are so massively affecting and unlike anybody else that it's very hard to find an adequate comparison. It's so imaginative and unusual and yet everything seems unforced and unhurried and I defy you to listen to these songs without letting the shimmering tones and wistful stoicism really get under your skin. Sometimes it has that same kind of '60s-style density to the sound that you sometimes hear from Brian Jonestown Massacre at their better moments, but there's more of a focused sense of melancholy and experimentalism here as opposed to the BJM party vibes. My favourite track on the whole record, though, has to be her closer 'I Know', which brings in some Casio beats and a simple little repeated melody on a cheap-sounding synth over which descending chords pick out a lonely refrain. There's some backing vocals that are processed so heavily they sound almost like the high-pitched roar of a metalworks in the distance. If I was just reviewing the Ela Orleans side of this record it'd be five out of five, no question.
Ela Orleans said:
Simon Hayward is a writer. :)
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