Lucrecia Dalt’s artistic trajectory has taken her places few musicians would so much as consider visiting, let alone seriously pursue. Her early work set her out as a genuinely individual voice but it was 2012’s ‘Commotus’ and 2013’s ‘Syzygy’ that really cemented her as one of the most ingenious artists in recent experimental music. They were intricately woven tapestries of sound – a swelling bass line here, an ephemeral glimmer of synth or breathy vocal there; unconventional, certainly, but absolutely compelling. ‘Anticlines’ is, in many ways, a direct continuation of the sonically fearless attitude that has characterised all of Dalt’s work up until now, despite the fact that – on face value, at least – it bears little resemblance to any of her past work. The melodic hooks of her early ’10s work are conspicuous by their absence here, and even the cinematic ambience of 2015’s ‘Ou’ is largely traded in for something wholly and uncompromisingly new on ‘Anticlines’. That, though, is really as you would expect from a musician whose key characteristic so far in her career has been to shift and evolve with every new release.
To say ‘Anticlines’ is the least melodic album Dalt has released so far would be an understatement; where much of her previous work was so innately melodious that it seems inseparable from the music’s very core, here she forgoes almost all of that for a dizzying array of sounds almost exclusively percussive and textural. It’s not that she’s put away the synths for this album – far from it, they’re perhaps more central to ‘Anticlines’ than any album she’s made before – but atmosphere and rhythm are absolutely central to this record. Whereas Dalt has historically mixed her vocals low and bathed them in ambient effects, here they’re up front and completely central. Album opener ‘Edge’ is an utterly singular statement of intent for the record; every aspect of the song is sparing and carefully paced. Dalt’s vocals are more spoken than sung and her words are delivered with a spellbinding assurity that almost belies the fascinatingly uncomfortable lyrics. ‘Anticlines’ is a frugal experiment in sound, one where each and every song has a definite and considered purpose; the lonely blip of a single synthesizer often forms the basis of these tracks and it’s from there that Dalt carefully builds her songs up into something so quietly powerful and affecting that it can be easy to underestimate the music’s impact if full attention isn’t given over to it.
As an exercise in the intensity of well-placed minimalism, then, ‘Anticlines’ is a definite success. Perhaps more importantly than that, however, it’s also a record that cooks up a completely striking atmosphere all of its own. Many of the album’s short tracks run into one another, forming an album which essentially feels like a single large, cohesive piece of work rather than an assembly of shorter, unrelated pieces. Rather than homogenising, ‘Anticlines’ various tracks throw a broad enough array of concepts at the listener to remain clearly individual from one another, despite an overall cohesion which lends the album a satisfying sense of completeness. Even within experimental music as a broad umbrella term, creating a work of art that genuinely sounds like very little else out there is hard. With ‘Anticlines’, Lucrecia Dalt may well have achieved just that. It’s a bold step forward for an artist who’s made a good number of them by now. Although it’s a less welcoming, accessible listen than some of her earlier, more melodic work, perseverance is rewarded with a deep, mature album that never insults the listener with assumptions that they are unable to keep up with its various and varied threads.
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The full track listing for ‘Anticlines’ is as follows..
04. Atmospheres Touch
05. Errors Of Skin
06. Analogue Mountains
07. Axis Excess
08. Indifferent Universe
09. Concentric Nothings
10. Helio Tanz
11. Glass Brain
13. Eclipsed Subject