Diptych is the new album by San Francisco duo The Classical. They comprise singer and songwriter Juliet Gordon and drummer Britt Ciampa. Their music combines the chaos of The Birthday Party, The starkness of Nico, the dark lushness of Scott Walker and the cinematic soundscapes of John Barry with a disjointed jazz edge. Highly original and worth investigation!
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- / Limited deluxe art edition CD on Time Sensitive Materials. Edition of 65 copies in gorgeous bespoke handmade packaging
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- Diptych by The Classical
8/10 Robin Staff review, 10 June 2015
This album is confusing enough that the sonic think tank responsible for writing its press release had to stop and say “hmm, let’s see”, which actually turns out to be a fitting description for the band. So yeah, about that seeing: let’s. The only thing self-evident about the Classical is they have a really fucking good drummer, one whose shaken jazz barrages the record’s early tensions and compels us through two sparse, difficult tracks. In its early going, ‘Diptych’ sounds like a terse performance piece for vocalist Juliet Gordon, the drums and occasional abstract flutterings recalling Neneh Cherry’s recent record ‘Blank Project’, a record shrouded in zero emotive or melodic disguises. From there, it starts to fill up.
After “Shovel & Bevel”, the arrangements start to get more articulated, even if they fall apart at a click of the fingers. ‘Diptych’ trembles with strings that could recall Scott Walker both in the days of pop crooning and musique concrete invasion; on “Deft With Language”, ambience is kissed off with echoing piano and phased out vocals. The tambourines of “Driveby” are parsed through a lens of momentary guitar picking and cracked whispers from Gordon, as well as sharp, unkind notes on piano. In moments like this, the question arises: am I listening to a pop album or is this actually the strangest thing I’ve listened to all year? It doesn’t matter, but seriously: which is it?
It’s clear that Juliet Gordon is on her own wave length, to the point where she can take us out of the record’s space and then throw us back in it without an apology: “Our Lady of Revenge” dissipates into the lo-fi murk of a Mount Eerie track before suddenly coming out blazing, exalted with trumpets, spindling piano a la Fiona Apple and another ferocious drum performance. What is she doing? I don’t know, I’m just listening. I’m just tapping my feet. I’m just scratching my head.
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