Quinta - My Sister, Boudicca

Nick Lewis 04/08/2009

Rating: 5/5

This is probably the strangest, most beguiling record I've heard in a long time. The opener, They Come, The Burning sounds like a Philip Glass piece remixed by Susuma Yokota, simple piano loops gradually layered until they evolve into complex counterpoints, then once you've been hypnotised, the strings come in. It is simply beautiful.

The minimalist theme runs throughout the record, Quinta tending towards evolving pieces rather than definite song structures. This makes for an organic listening experience and frequent surprises as she brings in new sounds and often clashing melodies that constantly surprise you, filling you with wonder.

Quinta uses a huge variety of instruments and sounds throughout this album, encompassing piano, strings, clarinet, accordion, Wurlitzer, organ, voice, electric guitar, theremin and an untold number of Mira Calix-esque 'found sounds' and electronics. She often brings them in seemingly at random, without notice, sometimes not to reappear, sometimes to resurface much later when you've forgotten about them.

There is a current of strangeness to the whole album, often manifesting itself in portamento string parts that frequently resemble the work of John Tavener in their dissonance. Quinta seems an artist uncomfortable with clearly defined harmonies and melodies, preferring to blur them around the edges. At times it is very reminiscent of Rebecca Moore and the instrumental pieces on Swordfishtrombones by Tom Waits, largely due to a persistent haunted nautical theme.

The strangeness shouldn't put anyone off though. By constantly introducing new sounds and filtering beautiful songs through odd lines Quinta makes a wonderful soundscape in which the song is almost incidental to it. It's like listening to a record playing at the bottom of the ocean through a long tube that picks up interference on the way.

It's hard to describe this album, as it is so singular that comparisons are difficult and almost unhelpful. It's definitely one for those who like the artier, more experimental side of music, and in all honesty, I'm not sure how many repeat plays it will really get. But as a work of art it is a wonderful piece: strange, beautiful and irresistibly unique.

Release date: 29.06.09