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Lisa Lerkenfeldt: Collagen (LP, Shelter Press, August 2020)

A promising debut LP from this Australian ambient artist. We open with In Her Hair, a big shimmering ambient synth number, and we close with Champagne Smoke, a rather lush strings-and-static melody-versus-noise track (spoiler alert: the melody wins on points). In between, things are decidedly more sparse: the title track’s thin, high-register drones almost play second fiddle to a base of crackling and rumbling, and has the effect of getting the listener to strain slightly to catch the elusive details; Gates Of Desire combines a simple piano melody with a mechanical whirring; Music For Three Combs apparently features peach-wood combs and contact microphones, but the most recognizable sounds emerge from the bowels of a piano; and The Weight Of History, my favourite, starts out with a quiet resonance playing out among the quiet rumbles and clicks of something so distant that you’re not quite sure whether it’s machinery or thunder, and then halfway through layers on a quiet, delicately mournful tone that I find utterly bewitching. This is the kind of album that I’m likely to describe as intriguing (and an early draft of this write-up — yes, I do edit, cynics — included the phrase “intriguingly trichological”) which sounds like damning with faint praise… But it is intriguing, and The Weight Of History is one of the most quietly beautiful things I’ve heard all year.

I bought this from the artist’s Bandcamp page. (I sort of regret this decision since the post from Shelter Press in France to me in London took four weeks. I guess this is an experience to file under New Normal?)

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