Anomie Belle: FLUX (Diving Bell Recording Co)
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UK release date 20.01.2017
Probably the most unique album to arrive on my desk this year so far. Part way through first listen I was not sure if it was a fit for this magazine or not. Then I got it….
This Seattle-based experimental electronica artist and classically trained multi-instrumentalist, is a bit of a genius. Can you have a “bit of” a genius? Well if you can; she’s it.
Often for me, when a project is ambiguously labeled electronica, it can just be noise and little in the way of decent material or melody. But here we have real songs; crafted writing as well as a mind numbing amount of technological challenges. A voice like no other too. Quirky like the entire record. Likely to indelibly etch itself into your brain.
It may well be a Marmite moment for many. I cannot stand Marmite, but I have grown to really dig this. Acres of loops and layers that sweep you along. Experimental Electronica, IDM, Glitch Hop, Down-tempo, Trip-Hop …whatever it is, there’s nothing else like it out there.
The third album since her debut in 2008, this has a spiritual depth to it, a sensuality, and a dream like quality, ethereal chilled out factor and even a yearning. Melancholic at times, but it can groove too.
She was 11-years-old when she first discovered what multi-tracked music sounded like; using a basic cassette player her parents gave her. It was a song she had written, recorded on the cassette player, starting with a layer of piano, then a couple of vocal layers, xylophone, violin and percussion. That was the magic moment, when she fell in love with the whole creative process; that feeling of being completely and utterly immersed in creating something from nothing. That feeling has never left her.
Anomie has had many collaborators since then; Sneaker Pimps, Posies, Mr Lif and was most recently featured on Yppah's album "Eighty-One" on Ninja Tune. She has toured with such diverse talents as Bonobo, Tricky, Little Dragon, Emancipator, Bajofondo and Ott, and formed her own string quartet to perform alongside The Album Leaf.
Her debut album “Sleeping Patterns,” was released in December 2008. “The Crush,” in September 2011. She has also released EPs and singles. So a five year wait for the new album.
Her style is due in equal parts to a life dedicated to refining classical technique, most notably on violin, shaped through her meticulous studio production that pushes the boundaries of granular synthesis and vocal processing.
The PR blurb for this record claims it is “electronic, classical, moving, sensual, glitchy, emotive and pure. Her music is quite of a world all its own, and in Flux we experience her most impressive work to date.” I have no reason to argue with that statement.
The opener, “Saturday Gives,” sits on a moody classical string foundation, before “Right Way,” changes the pace with a funky, almost drum and bass vibe, vocoder breaks up the vocal. “As We Are,” keeps up the groove and gives Anomie the chance to change her vocal style. The dozen cuts fit together tightly, but nothing is samey.
Often you will read the word “beautiful” in a review of a new album, and quite possibly it is just lazy writing and doesn’t actually mean much. Here it does. In my mind I conjure up images of the ocean, wild and untamed one minute, tranquil and inviting the next. Her music the perfect soundtrack to daydreaming. It has that elbow in the back element to it too, so you cannot drift off too far from the reality, the here and the now. Mahler is my favourite classical composer and I found myself thinking that should he still be alive today, what a sound he and Anomie could make together.
Flux is an album and art project. An art book comprised of 14 visual art pieces, each by a highly revered international artist, accompanies the album; portraits of Anomie inspired by the music. With each artist, Anomie explored common themes and inspirations so the visual art would feel deeply connected to the music. Artists include Seattle based visual artist, Redd Walitzki, Milan based Marco Mazzoni. Her music has been used on TV and game soundtracks. Anomie really should be scoring entire movies.
The songs here explore disillusionment and the search for identity. I doubt Anomie has an issue with the latter; this is her own sound and who she is for sure. That phrase; think outside the box. I suspect Anomie threw that box in the trash when she was 11…………….
Words SIMON REDLEY