Juno-nominated singer, all-round auteur and Botticelli fan Lydia Ainsworth presents her third studio album. An exercise in fantasy world-building, Phantom Forest promises to be the Canadian’s most ambitious record yet. This is pop music produced with the ear of a composer, which finds a place for both live and programmed instrumentation.
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Well I was expecting pastoral folk but got banging electro-pop instead. Lydia Ainsworth's new record is less Goldsmith and more Goldfrapp (that's probably the best thing I've ever written). On 'Phantom Forest' Ainsworth fuses an organic sensibility with electronic sounds. There are all kinds of trap-style snares, glassy synths, big beat basses, and choruses that wouldn't sound out of place on Radio 1 (but none the worse for it).
Albums like this just go to show that certain themes and motifs should not be bound to certain genres or styles. I want to hear fears about AI discussed in folk music, gabber singles inspired by geography, and grime albums structured like the Julian calendar. But back to Lydia Ainsworth! There are quite a few bangers on this record but my favourite is probably 'Edge Of The Throne'. It's dark and mean, with a killer chorus and this fantastic mid-tempo groove that reminds me of Massive Attack or even some early dubstep like Pinch. In fact, I like the whole record, and it's because its so well-realised. Ainsworth has realised her version perfectly (at least that's how it sounds to me).
This is a great album that exists in the world of its creator. Ainsworth has made an unsettling realm, full of hierarchy ('Throne', 'Diamonds') and strange liminality ('Kiss The Future', 'Tell Me I Exist'). To enter the phantom forest, listen to this album.
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- Phantom Forest by Lydia Ainsworth
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