| Artist: Tara Vanflower|
CD Title: My Little Fire-Filled Heart
Label: Silber Records
Reviewer: Joshua Heinrich
My Little Fire-Filled Heart, the second solo outing from Lycia alum Tara Vanflower, finds a mature, focused Vanflower taking a more hands-on approach to performance, production, and mixing. Weaving an interesting reverb/delay-drenched ambient web from threads of ethereal vocals, percussive instruments (including xylophone and chimes), occasional eclectic programmed drum/sample passages, some synth, and somewhat rudimentary guitar, Vanflower's often minimalist yet heavily textured musical soundscapes are both organic and unique. Sometimes recalling but never exactly sounding like a wide range of artists (including Miranda Sex Garden, Lydia Lunch, and The Creatures' earlier work), the material here ranges from more concrete loop-based pieces held together by repeating percussion/sample phrases to droning sound pieces lost on a sea of shimmering echo. Anchoring the compositions or, perhaps more accurately, at the heart of them, is Vanflower's excellent poetry and lyrical work, often contrasting dark themes with an almost childlike sense of imagery or wonder.
Two short pieces, aptly titled "Ligertily" and "Tigerlily" and both constructed from a processed a cappella rendition of "You Are My Sunshine", bookend the disc. In addition to the Vanflower-penned tracks, My Little Fire-Filled Heart includes excellent covers of Death In June's "The Honour of Silence" and the traditional "A Conversation with Death". The former features layered vocals atop a foreboding synth string foundation, while the latter consists of spacious, layered, panning vocals over a subtle, reverb-drenched metallic noise background that carries on for minutes after the vocals fade.
"Yaya" is a haunting, atmospheric mood piece, an unsettling vocal chant with eerie pitch-shifted vocal accents and underlying, low-pitched processed string loops and scrapes. "Rabbit" starts out almost nursery rhyme-esque, with a somewhat uplifting, childlike vocal melody painted across a slightly more sinister canvas of subtle delayed percussion and noise loops that slowly overtakes the song, later accompanied by far darker spoken passages.
"Naked King" is easily one of the album's standouts, its pounding percussion, random guitar meandering, and heavily delayed vocal loops creating a sonic landscape that is surreal yet more anchored than much of the disc's other material. In all reality, its basic shell is not altogether different from the looping experiments probably toyed around with by any guitarist/vocalist that gets their hands on a decent delay pedal. Still, there's certainly something raw, primal, and captivating about Vanflower's delivery here.
The spoken word approach of "Silverback" floats atop a droning moan and jangling chime and bell-like metallic sounds, with "the girl from the green dimension" moving in a more uplifting fashion with bright chimes, a droning synth underbelly, and lovely vocal harmonies. "I Lost the Moon", on the other hand, is something far more bizarre and alien, its slightly dissonant guitar chords, processed breathing, and cascading vocal melodies creating a warped, dreamlike atmosphere.
"A Rusted Nail through the Wrist" continues the disorienting oddity of the former, albeit this time based in odd percussion loops, some of them reversed, and watery vocals, perhaps even recalling some of the more abstract work of Siouxsie and the Banshees from the mid-to-late 80s. The 11-and-a-half minute "Wren" is a soft, beautiful lullaby, music box and angelic vocals atop running water. It's sort of a closing track, with "Tigerlily" offering closure as more of an afterthought.
Overall, Tara Vanflower's second outing is an exceptionally unique and interesting sonic collage, both haunting and beautiful, dark and innocent. It's part twisted Grimm fairytale, part lullaby…or, perhaps, Vanflower's own Alice through the Looking Glass. However you look at it, My Little Fire-Filled Heart is a spectacular, poetic ambient/experimental offering that will likely appeal to ambient/ethereal fans, darkwave/goth fans, and experimental fans alike.
Lycia website: www.lyciummusic.com
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