Saturday 29 December 2012

Lisa/Liza - Ancient Edge

Album review by

You would think that the more you add to a song, the more it's processed and played around with, the more strange noises and otherworldly production techniques that the music is adorned with, the more mysterious it would become. This may be true in some instances, but then think back to very early recorded music, those ancient blues cuts or trad-jazz 78s, they had nothing to hide behind. They were lucky if they had more than one very basic microphone to capture the whole shebang. Music like that is filled with mystery, the question is whether that mystery is because the music is teleported in from another era or whether this direct approach can somehow add to the mystique.

You could debate for hours and the answer is bound to be subjective, but this new album from Lisa/Liza could be used as evidence for one argument at least. Fairly primitive recording techniques are utilized; most of the album was made on a four-track, with two songs on reel-to-reel tape. It's free from GarageBand or other such common tools favoured by smaller artists nowadays, in fact the majority of 'Ancient Edge' is nothing more than guitar and voice, both are slightly muffled and reminiscent of those early blues pioneers. Just one track, opener 'Black Out' contains any drums. You can hear background noises and the hum of the equipment.

You would think such simplistic intimacy would expose any secrecy and leave itself open, but in fact the opposite is achieved. Tracks like 'Grief Wave', the beautiful 'Song To Another Self' or the Mazzy Star like  'There In The Water' are so exposed that it somehow makes them even more enigmatic. 'Off Track' is just that, doing away with guitar and vocals for an unusual instrumental segment that's more a sound experiment than a song. By stripping down these compositions to their very essence, Lisa/Liza has made an album that's full of mystery. This approach may not be easy to digest at first, especially to people more used to compressed, digital, modern pop, but if you bear with it then you'll find that 'Ancient Edge' is incredibly captivating.

Lisa/Liza's website

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