Inspired by Scott Walker and This Mortal Coil, Penelope Trappes rented a small studio in London and set about making an album that reflected the boldness of those artists. Mainly using just piano, voice and effects, Trappes has produced the sort of emotionally vulnerable music she describes as free, empowered and naked.
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Inspired by cavern-voiced Scott Walker down to the point of being titled in the style of his early records, Penelope Trappes has set out to make an ominous and vulnerable work that wades through the same dark rooms as her heroes once did. Pins drop in these songs, her voice emanating like sonar from the centre of opener “Puppets”, carrying on out of space the same way as the aquatic percussive sounds that fill the song do. How to establish yourself in one song, then: surround your listener.
This record of pointed downbeat uses a gothic epicentre of piano, tripped out beatwork, whining post-punk guitars and soaring ambient supplements to block out any source of light. Straight to mind on the encompassing “Gravel Mouth” is something between the XX and Carla dal Forno’s newest cut for Blackest Ever Black, a crystal-clear remaster of pitch dark sonics. This is what the record does -- it makes you feel like Trappes is orienteering in darkness, with the beaming chords and creeping harmonies at the start of “Gone” instilling dread and hope as equal players.
On Boys Next Door cover “The Hair Shirt”, the record melts into lamenting piano chords and a whining sustain worthy of A Winged Victory for the Sullen, this kind of ballad for ghosts continued on the empty-room punctures of “Gold Universe”. With percussion that breaks into an almost industrial streak on this track, she shows you how to count from music, how to hear a solitary artist tell you through acoustics that they are alone.
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