Anna B Savage – EP

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Anna B Savage is a London-based singer-songwriter whose songs are filled with intimate confessions that are more likely to make the listener cringe than to sway. The painful honesty of Anna’s lyrics weigh heavily on the somber tones that she chooses to carry her words. Often, the songs’ melodies buckle under the shear heaviness of Anna’s intimate thoughts she conveys, forcing the listener to construct a mental bridge that ultimately links Anna’s lyrical content to the music. This is a good thing. It’s songs like Anna’s that make a music lover an active listener. She deliberately asks us to appreciate the nuisances of her rather husky voice and the space she gives each song to reside in.

In her debut EP simply titled EP, Anna has given us four solid songs that showcase her inherent talent to make us wince and sigh, groove and contemplate.

The opening track “I” takes us into a bedroom, placing us front and center into an intimate, anxiety-ridden position many of us can relate to: “He’s left the lights on / so I’ve kept my shirt on.” Later on in the composition Anna admits, “And they haven’t all been good / Like they said they would…/ But Jesus, he came off smarter than that / to grab an inch of stomach and say ‘fat’.” Before the song meanders towards a musical crescendo, Anna tells us that she’d “like to be strong”, reassuring the listener that her desires are more than just skin deep.

On the second track, “II”, Anna doesn’t allow us to emotionally rebound from the previous song. She begins by cathartically announcing: “I will never amount to anything / Skipping showers every other day.” A nervous guitar riff accompanied by a jittery drum beat quickly cuts up the silence of the song, throwing the listener into an unbalanced fit to hold on to Anna’s wrought words. The much appreciated reprieve doesn’t last too long, and we’re thrown back into the oppressive pit of despair Anna seems to be singing from. We’re right there next to her in some unlit hole, digging our way out to feel light on our faces.

Track three “III” recounts the uncomfortable tale of a suicidal friend who could only sleep with the image of a gun between her teeth. It’s a melodramatic, slow-burning number that captures the range of Anna’s welcoming voice, a voice that seems to be constructed of bits of PJ Harvey, Marianne Faithfull, and that one outstanding performer at your local coffee shop’s open-mic night.

The EP ends, of course, on a somber note, an emotional farewell to a fantastic debut. “IV” builds upon a sparse yet dramatic instrumental, punctuated by the passionate plea of “please forgive him.” A warm and much appreciated male voice eventually joins Anna to tell us that “ignorance is bliss.” The sentiment isn’t lost in the bromide. We hear you, Anna.

These are four amazing tunes that need to be appreciated. There’s a stark yet concise vulnerability about Anna that I love. I can’t wait to see what Anna does within the confines of a full album. I get the feeling that she’d answer a lot of questions this listener has. For example, I want to know why Anna feels the need to skip showers. How did she reach such an unhygienic point in her existence?

AnnaBSavage

June 3, 2015. Tags: , . Albums. 2 comments.

Sabbath Blaath – Self-Titled

ImageSabbath Blaath’s self-titled release is an interesting sort of Appropriation art. I know, mix ups, mash ups, or whatever, have been around for some time, but this doesn’t feel like a composition of multiple songs delicately spliced together to create a larger, novelty-type of track. What we have here are ten Black Sabbath tracks, eight taken from the band’s third album, Master of Reality, while two come from the self-titled debut release, that have been abstracted, or chopped up, from their original contexts and associations and then amassed back together so the familiar songs have been decontextualized to a point where they are fresh, original compositions.

When these classic tracks are divorced from the canonical heavy metal records, qualities like Tony Iommi’s oppressive riffs and the poetic echoes of Ozzy’s voice provoke countless associations unrelated to the band and they’re historical contributions to music and pop culture. On a lighter note, it’s much like Family Guy appropriating Kool-Aid Man for comedic purposes, which the creators have done on six different occasions. When Kool-Aid Man is taken from an advertisement and made to do something silly in an animated sitcom, the character becomes something larger. At this point, most people born after 1990 probably associate the Kool-Aid Man with Peter and Stewie than they do with artificially flavored sugar water. I’m getting away from the music.

Imagine cutting up your cocaine on the back of your Master of Reality compact disc and inserting it into your player—this is what Sabbath Blaath’s compositions recall. Tracks like “lordoff” (“Lord of this World”), “sweet” (“Sweet Leaf”), and “foreverafterforever” (“After Forever”) showcase the whole my brother-scratched-my-disc-to-fuck quality that is annoyingly pleasant in this instance. These borrowed sounds build upon the idea that music is, in all reality, just noise.

There are moments like on the opening track “void” (“Into the Void”) or on “emembryo” (“Embryo”) where the music is broken down into accessible sound bites where it’s easy to hear the riffs and sounds thousands of bands have ripped off over a period of forty years. Further yet, a neutered Sabbath surprisingly builds upon the spooky, for lack of better words, quality of their sound and image.

The final track “wizaard” (“The Wizard”) sounds beautiful in its truncated form. It’s an excellent bookend to the album. Like all good art, it left me wanting more. I was also left wondering why the artist didn’t try to rearrange the beautiful gem “Solitude.” Did he/she feel intimidated to hack up and rework such a beautiful song? I use the word “hack” in a complimentary way.

Anyway, the art of music Appropriation is as powerful as it is annoying, especially if you’re a true Sabbath fan, or Sharon Osbourne and her lawyers. Sabbath Blaath has created something special that is currently getting lost on Bandcamp. I would love to hear the artist’s take on most of Zeppelin’s albums, especially Led Zeppelin III and Houses of the Holy. Hail, Satan!

July 2, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Albums, The Best of Bandcamp. Leave a comment.

Elizabeth Veldon – A Soul with No Footprint

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Elizabeth Veldon is a found noise merchant hailing from a small town outside of Glasgow, Scotland. She spends much of her time creating very large and obtuse soundscapes that are well grounded in feminist and political theory. Veldon is recognized as one of the most prolific noise artist working today; she has created well over one hundred albums of deeply dense sounds. Her newest release, A Soul with No Footprint, is a two-song album that has the noisy noisemaker pushing newer boundaries with her art.

The opening track, sharing its name with the album title, is a forty-two minute dust-up of repeated loops of sound often repeated. Veldon leaves the listener on an anti-climatic edge of sound that never quite reaches a satisfying end. The noise is constant, consistent, and cathartic. There isn’t a wasted note within this heavily textured composition. It’s obvious that Veldon is reminding the listener of the inherent power of sound. Be careful when listening to this track. It’s easy to get lost in the swell of it all.

Clocking in at just over thirty minutes, “Folk Music as a Parasitic Expression” is, for the most part, quite a different track. There are layers and layers of feedback tones undulating beneath the soft shell of surreal sound. The song is fragile and familiar in its attempt to intertwine the underlying warmth of the found sound loops. Where the opening song left the listener unfulfilled in its promise, “Folk Music as a Parasitic Expression” fulfils one with promise. This is not an easy accomplishment.

At times, when these compositions meander past the twenty or twenty-five minute mark, the listener becomes suspicious. The noise can become fraudulent and forced. In other words, pretentiousness can begin to seep in. There is a concern for this from this listener. Is it necessary for these soundtracks to carry on to such great lengths? Rhetorical speaking, what’s Veldon trying to say? How would the listener respond to this album if it were abbreviated—neutered a bit? Do soundscapes only work when they are close to an hour long? I suppose that the answer to this is dependant on Veldon’s goal with this album. Concurrently, maybe I shouldn’t be asking these questions? I don’t know.

Nevertheless, Veldon has given us another thought-provoking work that leaves us with more questions than answers. And maybe I shouldn’t look for these answers? I don’t know. Maybe I should just get lost in the sound of it all. On a serious side note, if you are prone to fits of madness or susceptible to seizures, it is best to approach this album with caution. Veldon’s soundscapes are unforgiving in attitude and scale.

February 24, 2013. Tags: , , , . Albums, Uncategorized. 1 comment.