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Annalogue - Brocken Spectre

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Artist: Annalogue

Album: Brocken Spectre

Label: Ankst

Review date: Jul. 2, 2009


Annalogue - "Brocken Symmetry" (Brocken Spectre)


Guitarist, singer and composer Ann Matthews is best known for her work in Wales’ Ectogram, in which she’s played since 1994. Brocken Spectre, her first solo effort, resides in a place very far from the hard-etched lines and pop-psych forcefulness that typifies Ectogram’s style. As Annalogue, she invokes a world of shades, whispers and introspection, exposing and enhancing the most minute details in the process.

From the outset, we are plunged into a soundworld rife with drone, ambiguous tonality and rich with effect and timbre. “The swing that swung is broken,” intones Matthews, the music’s undulating and fractured motion emulating the words. Multi-layered guitars outline and accentuate different areas of a major scale. Yet, the music never quite comes to rest, gliding along as haunting vocals swirl in and out of focus. A faint pulse underlies the layers of lush reverb. The pitch and timbre spectrum broadens for “Anomic Recipe,” with deep bass and tinkling bells complimenting Matthews’ multi-pronged vocals.

Many of the tracks behave in this way, but that’s not to imply a lack of variety. The spacious production distinguishes each instrument and texture. Only on “Tony Wilson” does the texture become intensely dense; the Indian instrumentation is supplemented by what sounds like clarinet, but it’s hard to determine with any precision, as there are so many sounds on offer.

There is a beguiling innocence to this music, a simplicity that no amount of intricacy can overshadow. Points of comparison are difficult to find, but I hear Jandek and early Residents. Matthews uses tonality more than Jandek, and the rhythmic drive of Residents material is largely absent, but both artists inhabit a place rooted in childhood recollection, much like Annalogue. Brocken Spectre is an unsettling but rewarding first effort.

By Marc Medwin

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