M√°ra, "Here Behold Your Own"
Following up the limited 2015 release of her solo debut Surfacing, Faith Coloccia‚Äôs (also of Mamiffer) latest work is in some ways a continuation of that, but also something new entirely. With recordings dating back to 2015, Here Behold Your Own captures not only an artist, but a person in transition: the material was recorded before and mixed after Coloccia gave birth to a son with her Mamiffer/SIGE partner Aaron Turner. Like revisiting a photo album from many years past, she creates a perfectly somber, yet pleasurably nostalgic mood.
The two halves of the record delineate two distinct works, each broken into multiple parts.While they certainly compliment one another, "A New Young Birth" is the warmer one, with more distinct instrumentation and Coloccia's gentle vocals, many of which are based on lullabies she was singing to her son at the time.The other half, "Sangre de Cristo," emphasizes the more abstract elements of her work, heavily steeped in analog effects and treatment.The entirety of the record, however, is steeped in a warm, enveloping sense of time‚Äôs past via the production that casts everything in a layer of distortion akin to old, time worn cassette recordings.
Right from the first segment of "A New Young Birth" the overall mood and sound is established.Her piano work is prominent but it is filtered through a heavy layer of analog distortion and tape decay, perfectly capturing the sense of revisiting old memories and experiences.The second segment carries over much of the same sound, but shifts the focus from piano to Coloccia's gentle vocals that, combined with the processing, make for an extremely soothing and inviting piece of music.
This pattern repeats with the fourth segment, where her vocals appear largely unaccompanied other than the treatment and effects.Organ melodies are at the forefront of the third section, and while distinct and melodic, share the focus a bit more with heavier distortion and effects.The same holds true for the sixth section, which is overall a bit cleaner in production.The first half has a distinctly rich, lush flow to it, but there is a shift to heavier, more grinding sounds in the latter moments.
The second side, "Sangre de Cristo," has amped up noise and distortion elements that were somewhat more prominent in the first half, but Coloccia gives them the focus.The second section, for example, is almost all hissy tape noise and rotting crunch.It may not be harsh in the conventional sense, but it sounds as if it was constructed solely using the sounds of tape decay.The fifth section features her throwing in a bit of what sounds like standard feedback or pedal distortion within the analog haze.Here there are more melodic elements buried deep in the noise, and slowly these rise to the surface to take center stage.
On the fourth segment it even sounds as if she brings in some bass or guitar, meticulously distorted, to stand out within the heavier bass sound, giving the piece an entirely different feeling.However, some of the calmer elements from the other side seep in, such as the prominent piano on the third section, and the closing part again showcases her lullaby like vocals that are eventually subsumed by the decaying analog production, ending the album on an excellent approximation of the sound of a cassette being played for the final time.
As an album that is capturing a turning point in her life, the dynamic between fondness and melancholy works extremely well, because it truly does feel like revisiting old memories, both happy and sad, with the awareness that those feelings will never be experienced again.With that perfect ending note of decaying cassette distortion, it makes for a perfect encapsulation of the mood she set out to create.