Pehr
Empress has always been fond of devilishly deliberate songs, The Sounds They Madeis no different. Each tune is plucked and sung and crafted with utterconcentration, though without anything so technical which might requiresuch concentration. The obvious question is, "Why work with suchslowness?", or, "Why plod through songs through which even the mostrudimentary musician should be able to sprint?" The most convincinganswer I came up with was that the deliberateness prolongs thesensation and experience of the soft-spoken beauty of these songs. In"The Worry and the Wine," the initial melody sounds like the second daysessions of a self-taught guitarist just learning how to piece togethermusical sentences (such a guitar-wielding autodidact will stutter andstop and start again on some newfound melody, all the while clinging tothe elegance found within this newly discovered progression of sounds).The space between the notes becomes just as long (and as musical) asthe notes themselves. Each anticipatory moment between the notes hasthat air of potential mistake, where a sharp or flat tone could causethe song to fall apart or at least break down briefly. Yet the melodyhardly falters, and soon Nicola Hodgkinson's lovely vocals fade in andblanket the melody with a perfect complement. The effect is ratherstunning, like being witness to genesis of a modern indie lullaby. Theentire album is a collection of lullabies: hushed and soft-spokenvocals like windblown wisps of snow and guitars supplying notes onlywhere there is the barest of need. The novelty Empress adds to theirlullabies is a slight twist of electronics (echoey clicks and reverbswoop in between notes and swirl around playfully). "For Trains" has ajittery stop and start which sounds like the skipping of a CD (I wasquite convinced that my CD player's laser was doing quite a jig on thesurface of the CD) but then the crystalline and unwavering vocalsconfirm that it is pure artifice and not a surface scratch or faultydisc. The song itself (jittery music with smooth vocals) is an abrasivelisten and provides the hardest lullaby to listen to on the album. Itis not unpleasant exactly, but rather it is not the song to fall asleepto. Amidst the more fleshed-out numbers on the album are sometwo-minute spacers, songs in their barest form, skeletons almost. Theysubdivide the album with simple repeated themes, bringing the entiretimbre down to an even more narcotic level. Empress can sometimes beelusive with their quietude, so be careful that the few songs on thealbum which demand a more alert listen do not pass by too softly.

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