Antennasia – Qus-Cus – 4.5/5
This release has been playing for the best part of two weeks now, and yet oddly I have great difficulty in picking out memorable tracks or passages, yet that's not to say its forgettable. The soft sweet lullabies of the lead vocalist, San, is in fact anything but; somehow with an almost Bjork-like level of quirkiness her melodies and yet so filled with a sense of dreaminess that it leaves you floating amongst the waves of calm. It almost feels appropriate to be called music to drift to sleep to, but for all its innocence it's still not without its own character. Subtle differences in tracks gradually become more noticeable and they soon become another puzzle piece to unlocking the key to this artist; that the tone, for all its consistency, is never created in quite the same manner.
It certainly fits the description of Trip-Hop from a technical perspective; there's often the prominent looped back beat behind a simple melody, be it from a flute, guitar, violin or piano; the vocals forming a central point of attention, but it altogether feels much more ambient inspired in its objectives. It never feels obtrusive, never gets bogged down with emotional weight and as a result seems all the more content to drift into the background, the inherent simplicity of the backing tracks regardless of how they're formed doing little to constrain the vocals which seem capable of transforming from a thick multi-layered harmonious pop-like wailing to a sort of fluid scat or even something altogether more unpredictable and fragile.
This collaboration of two is very subtle; the experimentation inherent from taking influences from everything from dubstep, glitch and even a touch of folk and classical harmonies never makes itself apparent from the outset, blending into the background in such a way that it never feels anything less than natural. It's initial lack of memorability seems to be, in the end, something of a misnomer, and unusually does nothing to detract from the pieces overall impact. It takes time for the subtle nuances to sink in but the journey there is never laborious, and as you become more familiar with its ambient beauty, the unveiling of new unheard subtleties becomes a joy with each track seeming to re-invent itself. This is one of those rare kinds of releases I can see myself still listening to in years to come, and that really doesn't happen often.
Highlights: Metronome Wiper, Noanoa, Goats in the Blue Sky
Over the years this has grown into my own personal project, reviewing the artists that I discover and interest me. If you wish to see more of my work, particularly my more metal-orientated material, you can find me as a regular contributor for the online magazine
Posted by T. Bawden Tuesday, 12 October 2010