A Journal Of The Dark Arts
Thankfully, Alice Boman has not filled the holes in her haunted piano sketches on her newest EP. Instead, Boman maintains the space and glacial pace of last year’s Skisser, (which means sketches in Swedish), and stitches delicate bass, horns, drum machines, synths, strings, layered harmonies and knocking echoes to her raw, cobwebbed lo-fi recordings.
What we’re left with is a slight and chillingly beautiful ambient piano and chilled synthpop reflections on the many stages of love and relationships, mostly focusing on the end. And the aftermath.
What do you see
When you see me?
What do you think
When you think about me?
Do you even think about me?
Boman asks on the album opener, “What”. Relevant questions, for the pitch black of night, when we are struggling, waiting for the sun, for the illusion of being a person. “What” is the things we say to someone when they’re not around. It seems, in this early stage, Boman is still holding on to hope, hoping the missing person will show up, to take her out tonight. That glimmer of hope burns lower and lower, throughout the record. “What” sounds like listening to someone playing piano quietly in the night time, when all the world is sleeping. You can hear the creak of her foot on the pedals, possibly the whisper of a TV set in the other room, beneath her beautiful melodies.
“Over” is, quite simply, the sound of denial, over a dusty drum machine. “Over/It’s not over/It’s not over/’til it’s over”. Still holding on to hope. This type of confessional synthpop has really been doing it for me, lately. Sounds like someone jamming with their machines, all alone. It’s confessional and intimate, while still sounding rich and lush and full. The burning organs tones are perfectly chosen and placed, to create a jeweled silken tapestry, to scent the air with sandalwood. “You know i need the darkness/just as much as i need the light.” is a fitting anthem for many of this site’s regular visitors.
“Burns” is when the weight hits – the event horizon of inevitability, where there’s no where left to run, nowhere to look but at yrself, and yr continued survival. There is a grace in this resignation, in the stillness of a broken heart, which she hints at with rich choral harmonies. The harmonies sound full, but still sound airy and distant, continuing the feeling of loneliness and isolation, which makes the final revelation of a horn fanfare that much more stunning.
It is in details like this that EP II reveals itself to be a triumph, a detailed cartography of a heartfelt woman’s landscape of yearning. She’s got the musicianship to to cast a reverie and lull you into her world, which looks like some sooted log cabin at 3 a.m. She sings and plays piano beautifully, and effortlessly harmonizes with herself. Her gifts are perfectly recorded, and finished in the mix, and the spell is complete.
This combination of intimate singer/songwriting with detailed sound-design and an openness to other styles of music is some of the most exciting developments of the past few years, for me. I love the confessional intimacy of someone working by themselves, but the format of one (wo)man with a guitar or piano seems almost embarrassing at this point. Or, it’s got to be done right, at least.
Alice Boman has the same wounded delicacy and poetry of Perfume Genius, with the details and tape flourishes of Lee Noble or Blackest Ever Black artist Secret Boyfriend. EP II could be an Andrew Chalk record, overdubbed with a Susanna vocal take.
This is a stunning step for Alice Boman. Experimenting with sounds and styles will serve her well, keep pushing her songwriting forward. I hope she doesn’t lose too much of the lo-fi and intimacy of this earliest work.
2014 has been a stunning year for female artist’s, with a great number, perhaps the majority of major releases coming from women. This is a good sign, and offers an insight into the female psyche, into the dark recesses of a woman’s heart. So we may better know each other, our dreams and our expectations.
I’m sorry that Alice Boman had to go through whatever she did, to get this record, but i’m glad the record exists, nonetheless. She is transforming her pain and frustration into healing for us all.
Really lovely stuff! Highly recommended.
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