‘Folie à Deux’ is award winning British composer Emily Hall’s debut collaborative release with Icelandic singer songwriter and multiple times Björk collaborator, Sjón. Hall’s composition a piece of modern folk storytelling written for two vocalists, an acoustic harp and an electro-magnetic harp.
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Composer Emily Hall has created a melodrama for two characters on ‘Folie A Deux’, melding together wiry electronics with strings both suspended and accentuated. If you’re wondering if it sounds like ‘Vulnicurna’ on that description -- and maybe because Bjork collaborator Sjon is involved -- then the easy answer is that it doesn’t. This record is meandering and full of romantic reflection, but it’s ultimately far more pretty, serving up baroque arrangements next to programmed drums a la Julia Holter’s fantasy wonderland ‘Ekstasis’.
Hall wrote this music to be sung by two vocalists, and they exchange their songs over sparse, strange and often directionless classical music. “Ode to Pyton” sees Allan Clayton’s tenor rumble over light, airy instrumentation, where Sofia Jernberg is given harps and disappearing beats to struggle against on “Loneliness”. The record’s attempt to document the confusion and sadness that can be found in a relationship comes to life in the music: it is beautiful, perhaps idealistic, but its melodies can evaporate, Hall allowing her music to lose sight of itself.
There are moments where Jernberg and Clayton are joined together, such as on “Mantra”, where their processed vocals are wrapped around each other in an alien harmony. Here, Hall’s composition and Sjon’s lyrics go together perfectly: her minimal, a capella direction is underscored by his incredibly simple and repetitious words, both lending themselves to an eventual climax of screeching ambient synth and clicking beatwork. When Hall’s record is this restrained and claustrophobic, it sounds its best; in its more meandering moments, it sounds like a victim of its own concept, suggesting loneliness but not providing us with its total impact. Either way, though, this is endlessly pretty music: listen to it for days.
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