Jodie Lowther – The Cat Collects album review
Jodie Lowther’s fourth solo album is less an album than a spectral landscape to get lost in, over and over. It’s spellbinding.
Imagine, if you will, a flickering curtain of lilac light fluttering in mid-air. You take a breath, close your eyes, and pierce the veil. On the other side, a fantastic realm reveals itself, where nothing is as it seems and nothing like anything you’ve ever seen before. There are marmalade skies and turquoise sun. The clouds are shaped like dragons while tigerlilies nip at your heels. The dead, they rise, for the dead move quickly in this realm.
These are some of the visions that may grace yr inner eye on The Cat Collects, the fourth full-length solo album from Jodie Lowther of Quimper. Being a collection of sparse, experimental pop-like recordings, where Lowther’s enchanting voice is accompanied by a lone organ, The Cat Collects inherently brings to mind the experimental radiophonic soundtracks of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. If Delia Derbyshire had someone produced France Gall and the pair had scored a children’s fantasy TV special, it might sound something like The Cat Collects.
Each track on the album operates more like a chapter than a “song” per se. The album works as a cohesive whole, giving the whole document a sense of a quest. Or perhaps a vision. Beginning with album opener “The Border,” acting like an invocation, which transports you into The Cat Collects baroque, shimmering, psychedelic world, each successive chapter acts as some kind of bizarre visitation, a meeting with some strange inhabitant of this alien land, like Valerie and her Week of Wonders if it had more drum machines and actual witchcraft.
The Cat Collects truly exists in a world all its own, untethered to time and space. It brings to mind other isolated sonic universes such as Moon Wiring Club‘s Clinksell or the similarly hauntological Scarfolk. Like these other alien realms, you could lose yrself for years exploring the intricacies of this strange and wondrous land.
Despite all this philosophizing, The Cat Collects doesn’t really need some beguiling back story to be bewitching. The album, as a whole, is driven by good songs. “The Cat Collects” is the best song Cat Eyes has yet to write while “The Same” is nearly elegiac, with its lonesome falling organ motif and Lowther’s ethereal vocals, calling out over vast distances. This spartan-ness, this simplicity, is representative of the album as a whole. Certain tracks, such as “Guardian of Junk” get a bit more lush, but not much. This starkness lets you examine each element in exquisite detail. And the details are exquisite, make no bones about that. The most striking element has to be Jodie Lowther’s vocals, which are truly bewitching. If Alison Shaw of Cranes were to start a Broadcast cover band, it might sound something like Lowther’s alternate universe.
While i’ve not heard every note of Jodie Lowther’s discography, or Quimper’s, The Cat Collects seems more like a continuation than a departure. That is a compliment, not a criticism. If you’d created a world this magical, wouldn’t you want to stay there as long as possible?
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