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Jessica Bailiff, "At the Down-Turned Jagged Rim of the Sky"

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cover imageHer first solo full length in over six years, this album leans more into Bailiff's electric guitar and lush atmospherics rather than the more stripped down folk sound.  It has a distinctly current sound, but in a way that triggers memories of the best of early 1990s alternative rock, which was a formative time in my musical development. That’s not to say that Bailiff's more folk inclinations are gone, however:  the hushed, spectral voice and the slow, acoustic lead "Your Ghost is Not Enough" calls to mind the earlier, more folk heavy work, even with its transition into a more electrified conclusion.

Kranky

At the Down-Turned Jagged Rim of the Sky - Jessica Bailiff

A strong asset is Bailiff's penchant for balancing hypnotic repetition with sometimes drastic transitions.  The slower, melancholy paced "Sanguine," for example, may have a restrained, sad opening, but slowly grows faster and more complex, while retaining the hypnotic vocals and sparse organ accompaniment.  Towards its end, it builds to a swirling, psychedelic tinged work that rivals the best of Spacemen 3's forays into the genre.

The best moments are, for me, the ones where the sound takes a more drastic turn in one direction or another.  For example, the light, spacious piano opening and angelic vocals that open "Goodnight," are stripped away by a noisy, dense guitar passage and a stiff, metronomic drum machine that, other than Bailiff's feather light voice and restrained volume levels, could be the makings of a very good doom metal song.

"Take Me To The Sun" and "Firefly" might not have as drastically different of a sound, but are comparably uptempo and catchy when compared to the more atmospheric, skeletal songs.  The former is more hypnotic and spacey, and with the liberal use of reverb and drum machine is a bit reminiscent of the Jesus and Mary Chain’s Darklands. "Firefly" just stands on its own as a strong, beautiful piece of hypnotic, droney rock music that is less about unadulterated repetition, and includes some very nice guitar soloing.

Like my favorite moments of the Old Things compilation, a good portion of At the Down-Turned Jagged Rim of the Sky makes liberal use of electric guitar and drum machines, which I have always found a captivating combination, more so than straight forward folk music, which Bailiff also does quite well.  However, the combination of delicate, fragile beauty (in the vocals and instrumentation) with occasionally raw, dissonant moments, works together undeniably well.  Plus, this is exactly how an album should be:  a suite of songs that flow perfectly into one another, yet each has its own unique feel, be it pensive ambience or  catchy pop songwriting.

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Last Updated on Monday, 01 October 2012 05:30  


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