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The much lauded Ashley Paul continues to make ghosts a tangible reality on ‘Lost In the Shadows’, her latest concoction of song and stress. A multi-instrumentalist known for divesting her tools of their traditions, she favours tonal angularity and horrifying discordance, creating sparse, spectral works that are still somehow heavy in weight, bristling against the ear like they really, truly exist. On ‘Lost In the Shadows’, a record partly inspired by her new foray into motherhood, Paul offers her best and most evocative compositions yet.
They’re also, sometimes, her most coalescing. A guitarist and clarinetist primarily, she also implements stringwork and shambolic percussion, using it to create works playful in the abstract: the steady, unwavering brass rhythm of “Bounce Bounce” is treated to cameo appearances of high register woodwind squeaks and violin segues, all of them amounting to an eerie, childhood cartoon version of the typical Ashley Paul sound. The lovely “Night Howl” is adjacent to a more pastoral sound, her tick-tocking guitar pattern and lamenting clarinet sustains offering a twilit soundscape like nothing before it; where I’ve often envisioned Paul’s music usually exists in a suffocating, chrome-walled room with little passing through it, this record is an emotional response to an expansive, colourful world rolling through its days and seasons.
At times it’s easy to forget just how many soundworlds Paul is pulling from. The sparse arrangements and flat production are tools that make her sound singular, but she is an adept student of minimalism, jazz, and folk music, each combining into what you hear on tracks like “Frayed Dreams”. On 'Lost In The Shadows', she makes her most complete work, as if capturing a sound she's up 'til now been experimenting with: not meandering, but meditating, on the moment in her life.
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- Lost In Shadows by Ashley Paul
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