Monday, May 16, 2016
Marisa Nadler : " Strangers"
We have been joined by many new readers since Nadler released "July" a couple of years ago. So chances are you might have missed out on the interview I did with her, so it's linked right down there.
She sang on the final Xasthur album and has continued to pave a dark and sometimes country path for her self with her second release on Sacred Bones. It is evident from the opening strains of "Divers of the Dust" that her sense of identity is firmly intact the country croon is equal parts haunting torch singer. "Katie,I Know" is equally ethereal though more firmly rooted in the more Western side of Country. All the the twang has been replaced by dream like floating. There is a more fragile atmosphere to "Skyscraper" that finds her utilizing her lower register in some of the layered harmonies. Production wise the vocals are masterfully layered and arranged. There are swathes of ambience that drip out of various corners of songs that sound very simplistic on a surface listen, making this one of those albums you have to hear through headphones. She finds her self at a very interesting cross roads that defies genres on "Hungry is the Ghost". It does lead me to conclude that this album is much more atmospheric and surreal than her previous. It almost borders on post-rock at time with sprawling expanses of sound that would not sound out of place on a Radiohead album.
On her last album comparisons could be drawn to Chelsea Wolfe and with this album Nadler has stepped away from that. "All the Colors in the Dark" has the ghosts of classic country haunting the vocal melodies, but lyrically it is much more abstract. It took another listen for this one to grab me. The title track is more guitar oriented. The country elements on this song help paint the background. This is another song that took a second listen to really connect with. This need to take another listen continues on "Janie In Love" even though the melodies make more of an effort to reach out and connect. It's the lyrics that give this song more of an edge than the lazy sway of the song might suggest. While the Lana Del Ray comparisons could be drawn at a few different points in the album it's most apparent here. It took several listens for the glass like fragility of "Waking" to touch me. The 3rd song with a woman's name in the title "Shadow Show Diane". It is the kind of show Nadler said she could never tell her man, so their must a be a voyeuristic thing going on here. She strums an acoustic on this one, which is a much more streamlined arrangement than the bulk of the album.
Lyrically this album might be darker than "July" while the music is not as melancholy. It is more dream like. The synths that frequent this album give it the feel of something you might hear in a David Lynch, though it's feet are planted more firmly on the ground than say Julie Cruise. The album closes with "Dissolve". This song is stripped down to Nadler and her guitar, giving it a more folk feel. I'll around this one up to a 9.5 for now and see how it grows on me as it's evident many of these songs take a few listens before they stick to you, but it's a solid album of intangible songs and feelings.