Elizabete Balčus makes surrealistic dream-pop that is thoroughly melodic and experimental all at the same time. Visual imagery is as important a part of Balčus‘ work as the sound is, and the Conarium CD comes with an elaborately-designed 20 page booklet, all housed in a nice box. On Liminal Noise.
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A real flurry, this one -- of flutes, but also emotions. On ‘Conarium’, Elizabete Balčus submerges dream pop in pantomime, using a symphony of instruments without ever collapsing under them. This record’s pop music is experimental without ever feeling convoluted, Balcus creating waiting rooms of ambience and reflection between her fantastical landscapes.
With elements of jazz and chamber pop at its fore, this record feels a little like Julia Holter’s ‘Ekstasis’ meeting a Spires In The Sunset Grow record, trading off sparsity and lushness at will. Plaintive woodwind melodies and bright, traditional instruments meet skittering beats and Sufjan-silly synths, making for a conflict of ancient, stoic sounds and magical secret paths peeking out behind a Victorian garden. The spry, wing-fluttering melody that takes “Tourist” away feels like an embrace of the daydream after a while spent thinking about it.
Balčus is no electronic lightweight, her electro-pop inclinations often hardwired and intensive, with the flute improvisations of “Behind the Castle” mixing with a beat that could match Portishead’s “Machine Gun” if it wanted to. These kind of moments show Balčus sowing together total opposites, putting herself in untenable positions -- free jazz jams and stringent rhythmic policies -- in the name of a very particular kind of pop music. It’s a fantastic, weird record, possibly unlike anything you’ve heard. A triumph of fanfare and fury with a patchwork discipline.
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- Conarium by Elizabete Balčus
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