Maribel – Reveries
On the second and aptly-titled album from Norway’s dream-rockers Maribel, the band has toned down the rock element in favor of a drawn out, diaphanous atmosphere that pervades every song. The initial falling-star- film-noir-reverb-guitar, soporific splendor turns into an overdose by the end of the album as songs merge into each other like drifting, indistinct dreamscapes. In individual doses the result can be sensationally narcotic, but taken as a whole, the sonic resemblances become somnambulistic.
Stellar album starter “Falling Down the Stairs” sets the mood of the album with its measured beat, ominously winding, gritty guitar warp, and spur-like strikes of tambourine. Paal intones with impassively hushed vocals “I’m so low, I’m not even down.” while Rebekka dreamily emerges near song’s end, floating her sweet vocals over Paal’s detached delivery.
Rebekka’s melancholic, breathy vocals hang pendulously in the air on “You Bring the Sadness, while they move innocently against a seductive groove on “Jezebel Jive”. Both Paal and Rebekka feature on “Perfumed”, a Western noir number where they shadow each other against a steadily clomping beat and stark reverb guitar.
Paal takes center stage on last number “The Thief”. He breathes the lyrics “I lost my emotion… / I lost my devotion…” amid spare, picked guitar lines, Rebekka’s gently sighing vocal accompaniment, and expansive starry effects. A quickening pace is finally introduced, giving direction to the previously aimless, although alluring, wandering…
Isidore – Life Somewhere Else
Ever-prolific and ever-terrific Steve Kilbey (of The Church) has joined forces for a second time with Jeffery Cain (of Remy Zero) in the form of Isidore and, like all of Steve’s side projects, it bears his unmistakable vocal and lyrical stamp. Steve and Jeffery take the listener on a journey, both outward and inward, with a brisk pace of strummed guitars that keeps most songs from lagging. At 14 songs, however, the album could use a more judicious trimming of material, especially since several songs are cut from similar sonic cloth.
“Life Somewhere Else” is impeccably tailored to fit, drifting by in a beclouded dream of constantly strummed guitar and a tristful Steve murmuring with a velvety ache “Alone at my birth / as they pull me out / Alone in my death / Alone in the shroud.” Steve’s doubled vocals are immersed in shadows on “Some Reverse Magic” as he sings about “…a stranger on the shore.” against briskly strummed guitar, drum beat, and sustained strings in the backdrop.
Reverberating waves of cello and other strings flow through “Reappearance” as Steve, in a moment of self-indulgence, intones that “…Isidore has reappeared… realigned… / opening into your mind.” Steve and Jeffery take the flagrant self-aggrandizing one step further for “Just Dust” where a preening Steve proclaims “I really need to take my very last drug. / I said – Is – Is – Is – Isidore.” amid a strutting beat and hard reverb guitar.
A smoothly flowing sound returns on “Belle in Mid Air” with its constant strummed guitar and beat. An assured and animated Steve can be found sing-talking on the verses, which is follow by the dreamy caress of “I’m setting sail…” before the streaming chorus. “Readymade” runs on whooshing sonics, edgy guitar cycles, and a smacked beat, while the lullaby “Song for the Moon” soothes with Steve’s whispery vocals, piano notes, and chiming guitar lines.
RYAT – Totem
RYAT, AKA Christina Mcgeehan, is known for her experimental, electronics-based sound which she showcased on her debut album Avant Gold, where chopped sonics and glitchy rhythms were chilled and distilled into smooth, flowing grooves. RYAT takes her technique a step further on album #2, diversifying her sound to include symphonic strings and other instrumentation. She also delves deeper into a more expressive, sometimes vulnerable, vocal delivery, getting to the root of her emotions and letting them take seed in song.
The symphonic and electronic spar and spark on “Windcurve”, as harp flourishes, backwards-processed strings, and RYAT’s coolly cooed “Oohs” vie with a glitchy beat and sped-up pace. “Owl” continues the bright, buoyant theme with a skittering to thumping beat, arcade game-like reverb notes, pulled strings, and RYAT’s spirited vocals, which at one point spiral out in a repeating cycle.
The aurally interesting “Object Mob” shakes things up with a fat, pushing, horn-like pulse, jazzy percussion, and a confident RYAT sing-talking in a mid-range tone that “I was trying to be open.” It all takes a turn mid-way through, coming on like a 2-song mash-up of melodramatic pulled strings facing off against a faster pace of drums and cymbal crash. “Totem” is wound from various strands of RYAT’s vocals; some calm, some anxious. Agitated electronic notes flit and skitter amid the slower and elongated vocal refrain.