Tuesday, 5 July 2011

reviews: diva, richard youngs, richard anthony jay

Diva - The Glitter End

Diva - The Glitter End (***)

When Beth Consentino left Pocahaunted to start Best Coast, she revealed she’d never really liked the music made with the former, and was starting afresh with a style that mattered to her: a shift from hypnogogic drone to straight-up guitar-pop about boys. Diva Dompe joined Pocahaunted shortly after Consentino’s departure, but despite being in the band for only a brief time before their split, it’s safe to assume the ex BlackBlack girl doesn’t share Consentino’s distaste for their output.

The Glitter End is Dompe’s first solo record, and it orbits many of the same stars as her previous employers: Andromeda’s Lullaby is as ethereal as its title indicates, while Glow Worm would be the perfect accompaniment to a summer’s day were we to ever experience one. But despite multiple transient pleasures, the glittering whole never quite dazzles, inviting indifference long before its last rotation: promising, if not yet mind-blowing.

Out 25th July

Richard Youngs - Amplifying Host

Richard Youngs - Amplifying Host (****)

Over twenty years and a ton of releases (with scores of self-released CDRs supplementing every widely-released full-length), Richard Youngs has built a solid and diverse body of work that defies easy summation. In a typically contrary gesture, Amplifying Host casts out the electronic pop of predecessor Beyond the Valley of Ultrahits, adopting a wholly dissimilar, more earthy aesthetic.

Young’s incantations cast looping spells that homage conventional folk in the Richard Thomson mould, at the same time as invoking the outsider drones of Jandek (with whom the comparably prolific Young has collaborated on numerous occasions).

Repetition is integral to most tracks here, with Holding on to the Sea demonstrating the mileage Young can wring from a single phrase, the title’s enigmatic poetry swelling with every utterance. The album’s dense weave can be difficult to penetrate on first listen, but in the right frame of mind, Amplifying Host’s idiosyncrasies hypnotise.

Out 18th July

Richard Anthony Jay - Imperfect Beauty

Richard Anthony Jay - Imperfect Beauty (**)

During the recording of Imperfect Beauty, Richard Anthony Jay apparently had “music theory textbooks never far from his side”, which anecdotally indicates both the album’s strengths and its weaknesses. Jay’s classical fusion is precise and impressively composed, qualities that have led to soundtrack appearances and comparisons to Yann Tiersen and Michael Nyman. But there’s also an artificiality to its evocative qualities, which makes the title more accurate than was perhaps intended.

There is something off-puttingly aggrandising about its high-mindedness, with titles referencing dead French photographers and weighty single-word abstractions (Time, Silence). Announcing that The Tailor has “evolved into a short film” sounds impressive, till you realise it’s just another way of saying it’s got a video, while the music is similarly po-faced; all emotive strings and plaintive piano refrains. Max Richter may be the hip name to drop, but Mike Oldfield is perhaps more appropriate.

Out Now

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