Welcome to the second edition of ‘Spillin’ The Beans This week I am reviewing the album Vine by Jen Gloeckner, who comes from Dubuque, Iowa.
Her bio tells me that “Jen has released music through One Little Indian Records (Bjork) and has recorded with top artists, including the late Hector Zazou, Joseph Arthur and most recently Psychedelic Furs guitarist John Ashton for his latest solo project, Satellite Paradiso.
Her new album includes appearances by John Ashton (Psychedelic Furs), Henry Padovani (original guitarist and founding member of The Police) and Angela Mattson (In The Valley Below).”
Now, I’ve not heard of Jen Gloeckner before, but that is probably down to what I listen to, where and how I find it and which music magazines I read. Still, one needs to keep the ears open and I was happy to plunge in.
My first impressions are good. I am writing this on a sunny Sunday morning and the drifting, floating ambiance of the music works very nicely. This is electronica, but a very human form of electronica. There is an ethereal quality about many of the tracks that reminds me of people like the Cocteau Twins, but I don’t want to imply that the music sounds like the Cocteaus, because it doesn’t. I am also getting a kind of Angelo Badalamenti vibe too.
What we have here are exquisite aural miniatures, carefully-crafted and with an intimate quality. There isn’t anything here that jars or destroys the tranquility of the music. The track that grabbed me the most on a first hearing was “Blowing Through“, which has an emotional dimension which is enhanced by the arrangement and the use of flute. To my ears, it shimmers. The following track, “Counting Sheep” is another elusive, floating thing. The music is dreamy, in the sense that it sounds like the soundtrack to a dream. Mazzy Star comes to mind, but without the guitars. “Prayers” is somewhat more uptempo, which, to be honest, is what the album needed. You need some dynamic shifts to keep the listener actually listening.
Overall, this was a pretty pleasurable experience, but I am not sure that it will appeal to everyone. It lacks a visceral punch, which for some will be a good thing but might just be a defect for other listeners. Me? Well, I am perfectly happy with drifting, gravity-defying psychedelic-tinged ambient so this was fine by me. I’d say that if you like Jane Weaver or Julia Holter, then you will probably enjoy Jen Gloeckner’s latest offering. If your usual ear candy is Sunn O))), Public Image or Merzbow, well, you might not warm to it, but Jen is still worth a listen. Here’s a link to her Soundcloud page.