Tiny Vipers – Hands Across The Void

Tiny Vipers
Hands Across The Void

With little more than an acoustic guitar and an achingly brittle and striking voice, Jesy Fortino, the sole force behind Tiny Vipers, explores shadowy landscapes and shifting moods with a minimal amount of plucked strings.

The stark and sometimes chilling songs on Hands Across The Void, Tiny Vipers’ first full-length record, are a beguiling musical murk that blur the boundaries of freak-folk, alterna-folk and acoustic goth, all of which are apt labels. These tunes asseverate the unearthly feel by weaving resonating bass notes and swirling drones into the eerie folk fabric while maintaining an overall haunting ambiance.

But what really sets these tunes on edge is Fortino’s unsettling vocals. Her keen voice pierces through the fog with a cat-like prowess, as the multi-textured vocal harmonies deliver an emotional lift to the sparse accompaniment. In a beautifully controlled way, Fortino often seems to be screaming without actually doing so, and her howl turns into a spine-tingling scream-sing that somehow sounds delicate yet on the verge of breaking.

Musically, Tiny Vipers do not use any keyboard progressions, fluttering electronics or catchy refrains to bolster the sound but instead seem intent on establishing a shadowy, somber mood by relying on the melodramatic, acoustic guitar arrangements while the vocals emanate through the ether in exotic fashion. This works well within the context of some individual tracks, but as a whole the disc generates a feeling that these tunes are not just soundtracks for dour, campfire ghost stories but actually are dour, campfire ghost stories set to music.

Although Hands Across The Void contains a few weak spots, anyone who enjoys the RIYLs, or has a yearning for expanding their musical palette, shouldn’t be disappointed with this unique disc.