Friday, September 7, 2012

Ormonde's gentle, sensual songs

Another good one from Home Tapes, one of those little labels with a definite personality and viewpoint. I'd say that most of their artists are extremely good musicians, low key but willing to experiment. Megafaun is maybe their biggest artist -- also Bear in Heaven (though I think they're elsewhere now). Ormonde is a little more folk-pop, a little less prog, but a very nice addition to the family.

(Home Tapes)

Ormonde, the first-time collaboration between Robert Gomez and Anna-Lynne Williams, simmers gently rather than boiling over. These are quiet songs, tranquil but not exactly static. There's a subtle yet unmistakable sensuality in Williams' caressing voice, the main connective thread in most of the songs, as well as the intricate, light-filled arrangements of guitar, accordion and percussion that frame her. When you learn that the band's name was taken from Lolita, or that its lone cover is the uncomfortable Gainsbourg song "Lemon Incest," it makes sense. There's a certain amount of pheromone permeating even the most serene of these cuts.

The hush comes naturally. Gomez has toured with Midlake and recorded a string of quietly stunning solo albums, Etherville, Brand New Towns and Pine Sticks and Phosphorous. Williams, for her part, was once the voice of dreamy Trespassers William and also the soft, fetching counterpoint to the Chemical Brothers "Hold Tight London." The two holed up in a house in Marfa, Texas to record these songs, allowing serendipity, not to mention proximity, to meld their separate, undeniable but unshowy charms.

The best song here is "Sudden Bright," Williams singing with the edge-blurred warmth of, say, Mirah, against a precise yet sun-bathed lattice of guitars. Gomez comes in after a while, his own voice just as quiet, a little more reserved and shadowy. Their voices together melt into lovely tight harmonies, no sign at all of where one begins and the other ends. There's a bit of keyboard at the back, a single inorganic sound amid a world of breath and skin. The title track is a bit more emphatic, its organ trills and reverberating guitars punched through with drum fills, and still, even here, Williams drips melody like honey from a spoon, sweet, slow, glistening with sunlight.

Machine is the kind of album you have to settle into. Expect too much right at the start, and you might find the ten tracks same-ish, slow and without obvious climax. Yet if you let it drift by once or twice without too much effort, Machine turns into a gentle, enveloping, time-stopping experience, the very best kind of indolent pleasure.

DOWNLOAD: "Sudden Bright," "Machine" JENNIFER KELLY

I'm still putting up whole reviews from Blurt because I can't even get in with Internet Explorer with all the virus warnings. But if you want to go the site, here's the address.

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