Saturday, August 20, 2011

Azalia Snail

Celestial Respect
This stuff is woozy. Like 3 beers, two .25 xanies, and a toke woozy. It is psychedelic in the truest sense of the word, because the music seems to be recorded at a different speed, shifting and wobbly from slower to faster, so slightly that you can't tell if it is just in one’s head. It is out of tune with the harsh reality of the impending doom that squawks out of the fear-mongering cable boxes. It is a much better place where this music exists. This music is not lo-fi, but home-made; it is better than store-bought sounds.

Azalia’s vocals are an acquired taste, but like a fine dark draught the longer you spend with it and the slower you partake of it, the better you like it. Her vocals are not faltering but precise. She often double or triple tracks them all slightly out of time. This is not just psychedelic, but surreal; the clocks are melting off the trees.

Solar Riser” starts off the album. It features horns and a timpani and Azalia's otherworldly vocals. Her vocals seem to be escaping from a worm hole from a different dimension. There is also a sad organ that rides under the plaintive trumpet tones and slow drumming. “Celestial” is a short track of what has to be an intentionally cheap-sounding synth. It ends abruptly before the space cowboys ride in on “Space Heater,” a wonderfully weird mix of spaghetti western country and cheesy 80s synth, with a trumpet to boot. Layers of vocals are piled upon the soundscape.

“User System” shows that Azalia is not hiding a bad voice behind layers of delay. Her vocals are quite fetching when stripped bare. This is probably my favorite track of the album. It rides so close to the edge of being cheesy and overwrought that it makes it all the more beautiful and pure. “GTR GODZ” has an amazing fried amp playing low slow Crazy Horse chords. Unlike Crazy Horse, the track is only fleeting.

She must have been cracking up during playback. For example “Lovely Dove,” where she sings very earnestly, “You are my lovely dove.” That phrase is piled on top of itself until it forms a billowing pink fog that spills out of your speakers and across the carpets. This music is really funny, when it is not being devastatingly sad. “Saving Time,” which is almost so dramatically sorrow-filled it takes on a comical nature. “Respecter” has a darker and abrasive tone. “Death Gets in the Way” starts out as a mournful tune, but then militaristic drums join the fray. But still a little sparkling keyboard hovers above it all, and the tone shifts to something very hopeful. It sits there magically hovering between light and dark. Squeals of guitar feedback starts up. The tone shifts again. Horns, Horns??? come out of nowhere and the mood is now triumphant. This album is a journey, strikes and gutter-balls, ups and downs, much like life itself.(Silber) (Dan Cohoon)