Klima – S/T

Klima
S/T

Piano Magic’s Glen Johnson has certainly been a true connoisseur of collaborators throughout the band’s decade long musical journey, especially when it comes to his revolving cast of female lead vocalists; both previously undiscovered and newly rediscovered. Hence he’s worked to sublime effect with the likes of Low’s mesmerising Mimi Parker, belatedly successful ‘60/‘70s folk starlet Vashti Bunyan, George’s spooky Suzy Mangion, the still relatively unknown Caroline Potter and – most regularly/crucially of all – erstwhile French citizen Angèle David-Guillou. In fact, so ingrained in the group’s DNA has Angèle become, that Piano Magic’s latter-day rejuvenation and regeneration can significantly be credited to her intoxicating presence, particularly on 2003’s The Troubled Sleep of Piano Magic LP and 2006’s Incurable EP. Furthermore, as Angèle’s enigmatic personality has increased dramatically in its magnetism, it was only a matter of time before she had free reign to release a solo album, under the penname of Klima.

Initially sounding so emblematic of Piano Magic’s aesthetics circa 1999’s Low Birth Weight – especially on the desolate vocal and music box-like electronic settings of “The City”, “Your Game Is Over” and “Her Love Is Happy” – this writer was almost convinced that Glen Johnson had pulled a Phil Spector-style coup of Klima’s first long-player. But on closer inspection of the dense CD booklet, Johnson’s name is only listed in the ‘thank you’ notes, although equally recent Piano Magic recruit Jerome Tcherneyan does act as producer and perform as one of several auxiliary players. It seems pretty clear then, that Klima’s muse does indeed revolve around a very similar axis to that of Piano Magic, but it is more of an indelible familial connection than merely a lazy recycling of the amorphous group’s back catalogue. Moreover, the further-in you explore then Angèle’s own distinctive craftsmanship rises to be the dominant force. Her aptitude for gorgeous neo-classical string arrangements and the swooning art-pop of ‘60s Jane Birkin recordings is adorably apparent on “The Lady of The Lake”. The blend of synthetic and organic instrumentation on the twinkling grooves of “You Make Me Laugh” recalls Múm’s most melodic moments. Elsewhere, the percolating beats, fuzzy synths and treated vocals on “The Third Man” pay homage to the largely overlooked electronica-exotica pleasures of Isan, Füxa and Tarwater. The sublime finale of “The Damage Is Done” beautifully blurs together a solitary acoustic guitar figure and soothing multi-tracked vocals, in the process imagining how a haze-free Mazzy Star might have sounded.

As with her Piano Magic wares, Angèle’s crystalline and almost otherworldly tones provide the biggest attraction; being both chillingly deadpan and comfortingly romantic. Even more impressive here is the fact that Angèle’s own lyrical palette is so rich and so nakedly uninhibited, despite English not being her native tongue. Perhaps the only limitations on this debut Klima collection come from a small shortage of snagging hooks, meaning that a few of the less memorable songs drift past in thrall to the composite mood. But in these impatient and rushed times it’s still good to have an album that offers slow-warming solace in 11 lushly-sealed sonic bubbles, even if some of them do take a while to allow your admittance. All in all then, this is a promising new beginning for a well-groomed and growing talent.