Carmen Villain’s first album since 2013’s Sleeper looks likely to find the singer moving into ever-more expansive sonic territory. This move was threatened by Infinite Avenue’s light-as-gossamer first single ‘Planetarium’, a track that sounded like Radiohead’s ‘Sail to the Moon’ being covered by Grouper. If that song and the follow-up ‘Red Desert’ are anything to go by, Infinite Avenue will be a record of cerebral drones and quietly confident songwriting. Jenny Hval guests on ‘Borders’.
9/10 Robin Staff review, 14 September 2017
This is just fantastic. I’m out of creative words and good thematic spin fo for the day but know that if I’d reviewed this just a darn minute earlier it’d be our album of the week. A record floating between lucid songcraft and lost ambient memories, it both strikes and stagnates, offering two shades of real life melancholy -- those times where you think on yourself day on end and the other, less spoken of methodless feeling that keeps you bored and void of ideas.
With a production that feels like a peculiar, obscuring mix of Grouper’s cloudy ‘Ruins’ and Radiohead’s recent, most dense of records, Carmen Villain’s terrain feels familiar but alien to the usual way of delivering these kinda songs. She moves between humming words over the acoustic slides of “Quietly” to filtering the track down to the riffs decaying into an absent-minded silence. Joined by sonic sociologist Jenny Hval, who contributes lyrics and vocals to the record, she opens her record up to dreariness and murk, welcoming them to “Borders”, where Hval’s high-octave, dramatically delivered vocal performance is huge and yet never quite out of the surrounding fog. It wouldn’t fit on another version of this record; but this one, which uses its meandering sequence of tracks to focus our mood rather than estrange us from it, feels perfect for it.
The songs themselves are great: the melodies are subtle and often churning, but never anything but gripping. “She’s Gone To California” takes a simple piano line and weaves it together with Carmen Villain’s whispered response to it, the whole thing ever so meagerly hopping over a key change into a new, more ominous territory. It might sound muted and disengaged, but this record can also be brave and bruising. Yes it is very good and at this point I’m merely a vessel typing words so you’ll listen to it.
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- Infinite Avenue by Carmen Villain
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