Posts Tagged ‘personal’

11th March 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Elanor Moss seems to be drawn to water, but not necessarily in the most soothing of ways. You’re more likely to find her gradually sinking than floating on the crest of a wave of soaking in the soothing ebb and flow of a coastal tide. Her debut release, the five-track Citrus EP finds the York-based artist reimagining Millais’ ‘Ophelia’ for the twenty-first century on the cover art, while the video for ‘Soundings’ finds her awash and adrift in a bathtub, water threatening to plunge into her mouth as she sings of her ‘Drowning / the sound of my heart / As I’m sounding / the depths of this whisky jar’.

If the metaphor is obvious, it’s also highly effective. The sensation is relatable. When things become too much, and you start to feel overwhelmed… drowning is the closest simile in the common vocabulary. While few of us have actually experienced drowning, there’s an innate sense within all of us of what it would be like – struggling for air, to stay afloat. Most of us have felt that way at some point, and the beauty of Moss’ art is articulating it so succinctly.

According to the bio, ‘The Citrus EP is a collection that addresses the tension that arises within yourself when you need to muster the courage to will yourself well again. The protagonist in this collection of tracks is someone teetering on the edge of pulling themselves out of a hard time, resisting ‘getting better’ with force. You go with her through a series of unfortunate events; each one she knows full well what is happening but does anyway. But this is not a hopeless record, not at all. Their reflections from the other side and recorded from a place of empathy, strength and kindness towards a bruised past self.’

I’m not about to press the alignment of art and artist, and knowing nothing of Moss beyond her art, I’m in no position to comment on whether or not her life informs her art, but it very much feels like she’s speaking and articulating and assimilating her experiences through her songs, where certain themes recur, subtly, but undeniably. ‘I want to drink ‘till I’m too drunk to think’, she sings on ‘Sober’, while on ‘Soundings’, she croons that ‘this whisky is burning’. ‘His breath was like a heart attack / the whisky stung me like a slap’ she recounts on ‘Citrus’. But not to dwell on this unduly, the songs are ultimately positive, empowering, and the realisation of the songs is magnificent, balancing sparseness and directness with multiple layers of vocal harmony and reverb. It’s a slick production, but one that doesn’t impinge on the intimacy of the songs and their delivery, essentially centred around acoustic guitar and voice. Only a fraction below the layers and reverb is a collection of acoustic folk-flavoured songs that are raw, sincere, and relatable. Citrus is bittersweet, and-pretty special.

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6th August 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s not always easy to remember – what you’ve said to whom, what you’ve written before, if you’ve really experienced something or simply dreamed it. You’d think it would have become easier with not really going anywhere or speaking to anyone for a year and a half, but in my experience, the opposite is true. Everything blurs. So if I’ve mentioned any off this before, if I’ve touched on how electrogoth releases often clump together, or how genre tropes can so often be so much meh, then I apologise, but only a little. Reviews are, after all, personal, a personal response to musical release, and objectivity only cuts so far., meaning that this personal response, well, it’s all spilling from a review-a-day brain, dayjob and parenting and the confusion of every day melting into the next. It’s been a relentless barrage of bad news in the media, as well as from friends and relatives. By no means has all of the anguish and suffering been attributable to the virus – more often than not it’s been collateral resulting from lockdowns and a sustained sense of panic. We’re biologically designed to experience fear in short bursts. Fight or flight. To be trapped, immobile, powerless, is beyond comprehension, and there is no space to process grief and trauma in a normal way.

It’s against this backdrop that Eric Kristoffer developed the new unitcode:machine album, Themes For A Collapsing Empire. It’s very much an example off utilising a creative outlet as a form of therapy, with the blurbage describing Themes For A Collapsing Empire as ‘a journey through the mind of Eric Kristoffer after a series of tragic events that 2020 brought. It explores a path of loss and regret, and struggling to cope with such stressful personal events while also trying to endure a global pandemic’.

Electro-industrial isn’t a genre one immediately associates with emotional resonance, but with Themes For A Collapsing Empire, unitcode:machine really strike a level that balances thumping beats and melodies that convey the human aspect of the lyrical content. That said, the stark, mechanised percussion and cold synths highlight the bleakness of it all – and by it all, I do mean it all. Step back and survey the scene: August 2021 versus two years ago. It’s a different world, and so many have lost so much – not just loves ones, but connections, livelihoods, sense of self and place in the world. Where is it all heading? Where will it end? Will it end? With climate change an inescapable backdrop to societies which have never been more divided, how do we return from here? Do we? Can we? It’s not just an empire that’s collapsing, but – not to be overly dramatic – human civilisation itself. Themes For A Collapsing Empire feels like an essential soundtrack to this existential anxiety. Stark and dark, it’s reflective, paranoid, gloomy, and it’s very much song-orientated, with kicking choruses being a defining feature.

‘Falling Down’ is a clear standout, but there are plenty of strong tracks and easy single selections alongside it: Themes For A Collapsing Empire packs in the hooks and solid choruses, but without being remotely lame or overtly commercial – and that’s a real skill. Everything just flows, while at the same time punching you in the face.

With nine tightly-structured songs all clocking in under four-and-a-half minutes, Themes For A Collapsing Empire feels like a concise statement, and an album with strongly-defined parameters and an intense focus, with the end result being all killer.

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