prog-rock quartet Braids, fronted by
guitarist Raphaelle Standell-Preston and
vocalist and keyboardist Katie Lee, debuted with
Native Speaker (Flemish Eye, 2011), an exercise in
minimalist repetition applied to brainy song-writing.
Propelled by an intricate minimalist pattern, Lemonade displays their
best quality: the ability to secrete songs that are
ethereal but at the same time very earthly.
Lee spends most of the song daydreaming, but then suddenly starts shouting
like a little girl and her echo drowns in a whirlwind of sound effects.
Plath Heart is typical of their dense, intricate and shifting madrigals that are hard to pin down.
Glass Deers opens with pure minimalist repetition that slowly disappears
and is replaced by flickering, wavering, tinkling tones mixed with processed
vocals while Lee intones her girlish invocation and paradisiac female vocals
float around her. The quiet turmoil achieves an almost psychedelic grandeur.
From the beginning the drum-less Native Speaker displays the
impalpable quality of an Enya lullaby.
The sparse accompaniment projects a contemplative atmosphere, but
the vocal effects augment the feeling of
fragility and insanity.
Lammicken, on the other hand, boasts a slow-motion muffled disco beat
and quasi-house crooning from Lee, although it sounds like something else
The tropical ditty Same Mum indulges in a simple counterpoint of
stuttering synthesizers and girlish vocals before imploding into a
completely different song: a drum-less cosmic hymn.
The melodies are not catchy at all, whether that is a cause (the instrumental
underpinning needs to provide the appeal that is lacking from the melodies)
or an effect (the sophisticated constructs restrain the vocals).
If the premise sounds akin to Cocteau Twins'
dream-pop, the outcome is much more difficult to grasp, the musical equivalent
of a calculus theorem.
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