Bradford dwelling artist Val Denham is a truly unique proposition. Since Vanity Case issued 'Dysphoria' a couple of years ago she has had a 3LP retrospective of early musical works published as well as lots of artwork type things so it's high time to delve back into her dark, fractured world. "Val Denham is probably the only artist living today possessed of genius!" not my words - the words of Genesis Breyer P Orridge. Expect a truly enthralling listen.
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Described as a genius by Genesis P Orridge and with a remarkable history already in place, Val Denham is, as it suggests on her website, the sort of artist that is normally only discovered after their death.
Val Denham is alive and well and resident on the outskirts of Bradford where she combines art and music. This is her second record on Vanity Case and contains the sort of outsider music that will may polarise but for those who can get to the core of it, there are plenty of riches to be discovered. Denham musically comes across indeed as a more melodic and less abrasive P Orridge. Her voice has a similar timbre but is used to create deeply personal meditations. My first listen to the title track had me almost weeping over my keyboard, part of her life history spoke/sung over haunting lo-fi piano and when her voice is triple/quadruple tracked it's almost too hard to bear. I also enjoyed the beautiful horns which drift through 'Black Boat Fisherman' where amongst synths and percussion Denham, picks out words that slowly but surely envelope you in her word.
It's been a couple of years since I heard it but I can't remember anything as glammy as 'Lilith' on her previous album 'Dysphoria' - still this is a rather fractured take on say, Marc Bolan - the track seeming to threaten to fall apart at any moment. Elsewhere there is a mixed bag of sounds, sometimes acoustic, sometimes electronic but the finest tracks such as 'Tomorrow Is Another Day' sit musically somewhere between the winsome folk of the early Tyrannosaurus Rex and the fractured songcraft of Syd Barrett. Like a lot of Denham's word the lyrics explore gender and sexuality in a deeply personal and revealing manner.
Art that wears it's heart on it's sleeve then. Not always palatable but always fascinating, Denham uses an impressive array of sounds and like the music of the Fall, the voice is the key to how it all holds together.
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