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Vikki Jackman, "Whispering Pages"

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Out of my latest order of three releases from Faraway Press, the current CD from this infrequent Mirror collaborator and often overlooked co-conspirator of Faraway Press (alongside Andrew Chalk) has been by far the most rewarding. On this, her second solo release, she has consciously let go of the single-piece-per-side mold and created a decidedly not-drone album.

 

Faraway Press

Chalk, Mirror, and Heemann fans are loyal because they're assured of the quality of the releases and in that respect, this is no exception. Like the Faraway Press catalogue, Whispering Pages is calm, reflective, and the packaging is top quality both aesthetically and practically. Unlike the other releases, it consists of nine distinct songs and Jackman's main instrument is the piano, but the variety of pieces makes for an exceptionally well-rounded album.

She opens surprisingly with a song filled with subtle electric pulses and hums underscoring her atmospheric and echoed playing. Tonality is key on "The Snow Queen" as certain notes are chosen to resonate more than others, creating a gorgeous all-encompassing sound bath. "Empty Rooms" sounds exactly like that: Vikki playing solo in a room on a still summer evening accompanied only by the sound of her shifting on the piano bench and what could possibly be some wind chimes hanging in a doorway off to the side, the hiss of the slow moving air adding to the atmospherics. "The Softest Blue," my favorite piece (and one which I featured on last week's Podcast) is a drastic contrast: multilayered with low-end synthetic string swells that any Stars of the Lid fan would immediately latch on to, yet it's accented with backwards echoes and a plucking of high strings on top that sets it far apart enough from the duo. Swelling backwards-like echoes make the tones on "Nightingales" reminiscent of Nurse With Wound's "Funeral Music for Perez Prado," closing what would be side 1 of this disc, had it been a record.

Jackman once again reintroduces electronic pulses and inhuman frequencies on the opener of the second half, "Never a Wave," and maintains the feel through the Chain Reaction school of dub influence on "Two Clear Eyes," as now there are low end bass lines underneath the Hammond organ-esque echoes.  The music returns to the serene with "Dreams" and "A Summer Interlude," both with Vikki's piano front and center bathed in the sounds of the outdoors: birds, wind, an occasional train passing by. Whispering Pages concludes with a two distinct (and not cross-faded) pieces sharing a singular track index: "Sleep in the Woods" reprises the sound of "Nightingales" while "Reprise" is reminiscent of "Empty Rooms." I don't consider this a mis-step but I think more attention could have been played to actually closing the song (and thus the album) with a finite cadence.  

With Whispering Pages, Vikki Jackman has established her own identity apart from Faraway Press and Andrew Chalk and has done it with an exceptionally good album. While more famous publications will probably not catch on to her for a few more years, I would hope that offerings from other recording companies might boost her profile. Although she may not be seeking that, I personally think more music listeners deserve to hear something this great.

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Last Updated on Sunday, 28 September 2008 07:38  


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