utorak, 15. siječnja 2013.

Jessica Sligter - Fear and the Framing (2012)

Prije poznata kao JÆ, Nizozemka Jessica Sligter odlazi na  mjesto u mračnoj špilji gdje se rock, folk i šansona spajaju s eksperimentalnom improvizacijom
Najdraže opsesije: strahovi i stvaranje mentalnih okvira.

Solo-project of Dutch musician Jessica Sligter, formerly known as ', who otherwise explores more experimental grounds with different formations in Norway, Holland and the USA.
Norwegian label Hubro released her full length debut ´Balls and Kittens, Draught and strangling Rain´ october 2010, under the name 'JÆ'.

Jessica's music is an eclectic mix of influences including pop, pre-war blues, classical music, rock, free improvised music and more, resulting in an intimate, beautiful sound that is kind of like those chocolate eggs: addictive, tasty, and there´s a surprise inside.

There’s been talk in 2012 concerning the term ‘singer-songwriter’ – and the supposed devaluing of its currency. And the notion that it now makes people think of young males with acoustic guitars and forced rhymes, or kooky ladies pitching their sound at mobile phone adverts, might have some validity.
Yet a wealth of solo performers with genuine depth and creativity are also on offer, just below the mainstream’s surface. On Fear and the Framing, her second album, Dutch musician Jessica Sligter takes her place within these ranks.
Sligter’s 2010 debut album Balls and Kittens, Draught and Strangling Rain, released under the name JÆ, was a piano-heavy and promising, if mildly unfocused, work. This follow-up is stronger on just about every level. Her voice, higher in the mix than before, rises and swoops dramatically. On the album opener Man Who Scares Me, it’s backed up by brass and bells; on The Perfect Vessel, a simple acoustic guitar motif suffices, Sligter seemingly channeling Leonard Cohen as she sings, “They hand you pills and tag you…”
Often obtuse and jazz-informed in its atmospheres – Randall Dunn, an American engineer best known for working with bands like Earth and Boris, mixed the album and probably has much to do with this – Sligter is perhaps most enjoyable when her ‘out’ tendencies meet with a simple folk-pop song. Everly, a melancholy acoustic strum, encapsulates this: its refrain, “I lost you when I found you, Everly,” has tipsy sing-along potential, but the verses creak with gothic dread that calls to mind Jarboe.
Although Fear and the Framing will be a bold and captivating record irrespective of its sales, other singer-songwriters – ones who have tasted success despite their resolute non-commercialism – do cross your mind over its 40 minutes. Pricklet, whose subject is affectionately likened to a thorn, would have done Bill Callahan proud on any of his Smog albums; while Joanna Newsom has proved there’s an audience for challenging singer-songwriters with her three albums to date.
If Jessica Sligter can continue making records like this, deliriously expressive and occasionally brilliant, then everyone listening will be rewarded, at least. - Noel Gardner


 JÆ: Balls And Kittens, Draught And Strangling Rain (2010)

Somewhere between the über delicate introspective pop of Susanna Wallumrød and the wonderfully pastoral folk of Alela Diane is Dutch-born singer Jæ, who currently spends her time between Amsterdam and Oslo. Jessica ‘Jay’ Sligter studied music at the conservatories of her native town, Utrecht, and, later, Amsterdam, but it is in Oslo that she recruited the musicians who were to bring this album to life, by hanging around the Norwegian Academy of Music and progressively getting acquainted with members of the improv scene.
Jæ’s music is essentially folk-infused, but the rich arrangements and breadth of instruments used (Jæ herself plays guitar, melodica, piano, flute and recorder, to which are added, amongst others, percussions, strings, brass, mandolin, harmonium, musical saw, ukelele) give this record a much broader scope. It is a times as if a full orchestra, albeit one that doesn’t follow any conventions but its own, was setting up camp in Sligter’s living room, while at others, the ensemble accompanying her is so discreet that it almost totally disappear.
But these songs would be nothing without Sligter’s earthy voice and her slightly bitter-sweet lyrics. Her vocal performance is beautifully restrained throughout, filling each song with just the right amount of emotion. Right from the opening line of Adam’s Place, it is difficult to escape the appeal of Jæ’s delicate timbre, her words carried like paper boats on a stream to land exactly where they need to be. The melodies are never quite as straightforward as they appear, yet these songs flow elegantly, underlined by subtle touches which give them each an identity all of their own, from the classically-tinted vocalise of Red Around The Eyes or the heart warming harmonies of Jim’s Place and Song Came From M. to the exquisite dialogue she maintains with a musical saw during Reverse and I Still Owe The Morning, the latter sounding quite like a late night jazz club standard. With its understated mandolin backdrop, Over, The White Snow is easy to dismiss, but its graceful rendering and its wonderful violin motif toward the end, make it a particularly touching song, while  the quietly sweeping chorus of Gentle Friend contrasts greatly with the wandering verses.
Originally released last September in Norway, Jæ’s stunning debut album is now being given a full UK release. The fifth release from Norwegian imprint Hubro, Balls And Kitten… is a truly poetic and enchanting record which can only but steal the heart of whoever happen to stumble upon it. -

Having originally been born in the Netherlands, it wasn’t until Jessica Sligter (Jae) paid a visit to Oslo that she found the musicians she felt would do justice to her folky, jazz compositions. Delicately moulded and wonderfully revealing, the songs contained on Balls And Kittens, Draught And Strangling Rain are beautiful exercises in textured and organic sounds. Despite the Dutch and Scandinavian origins, tracks like opener ‘Adam’s Place’ and ‘Song Came From M’ have a wistful Mediterranean air to them, like a nostalgic longing for a summer gone by. Jessica’s voice is stunning throughout as well, almost pure and flowing along with the classical arrangements with ease. In fact with nearly fifteen collaborators in total on this album, it’s a wonder it didn’t come out overpowering and swamped with too many ideas. Yet the sparse and beautiful songs are given plenty of space to breathe and develop around that familiar angelic voice of Miss Sligter. Impressive stuff.music.thedigitalfix.com/

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