Arthur Loves Plastic: Strings

Arthur Loves Plastic: Strings
Title: Strings
Label: CD Baby

This release marks an organic departure from more dancefloor-friendly, sparkly ALP efforts. ALP's Bev Stanton took her acoustic bass guitar out of the closet and captured intimate performances by cellist Fred Lieder and upright bassist Jon Nazdin. She also used loops from practice tapes of her Baltimore post-punk band The Window Shoppers and urban field recordings of her commute on DC buses and metro. The percolating electronic chirps and bleeps are restrained but keep the tracks from marinating in Weltschmerz. 'Freedom Feels' confronts the stark reality of solo travel in a world built for two with haunting bass and sparse percussion. 'Unique' is a clanking Gen X tribute to introversion. In 'Bring It On,' Lisa Moscatielloe's voice soars over melodic and melancholy Peter Hook-inspired bass lines. Moscatiello, whose rich alto provides the unifying force of this effort, instinctively knows when to be earnest and when to wink at the melodrama from track to track. REVIEW Arthur Loves Plastic ft LISA MOSCATIELLO - Strings CD Produced, played and generally done by Bev, sung by Lisa, welcome to the new ALP album - and you're in for a treat. The opening track essentially sums up the album and where ALP's head (and heart) is at right now - there's rhythm, there's classical, there's atmosphere, melody, beauty, passion, tension, the sound of the new allied to a half-forgotten familiarity - in short, it's just gorgeous - called "Today Is Not The Day", it opens with a cyclical organ riff over stick-like electro-percussion and half-wheezing synth, before the thump of a beat emerges, a sea of melody is distanced and Lisa's treated lead vocal sails into view, the verse half-spoken, the chorus multi-tracked like a cool breeze on a summer's day, the feel one of chilled-out ambience and dare-to-dance rhythm in one wondrous melting pot. But instead of climbing upwards, the track floats inwards to your heart on a waft of deep strings, courtesy of Fred Lieder's wondrous cello work, as the gorgeousness of the track is summed up in just a few brief minutes, yet leaves an imprint on your mind that's going to be with you for a long time to come. It has a darkness to it's beauty, a dreamstate that's got bite, as it twists around a lead synth melody, the flowing cello, that cyclical organ, Lisa's atmospheric vocals and the chunky percussive delicacy. Quite, quite stunning. From there, twangy guitar introduces "Freedom Feels" as solid but slowly flowing beats stride into view, while Lisa's lead vocal flows on top, all the while a soundpool of layers added on top - you become aware of sonorous bass, rivers of synth, blopping melodies springing up like bubbles on a pan of boiling water, and the whole thing somehow manages to mix this brooding darkness with a slow-motion sixties-esque guitar, topped with synth layers and textures that take you from yesterday into tomorrow, and beyond, the vocal in perfect company with the music. "Tumbleweed" opens like some ambient remix of a classic Abba song and, just as you expect the ladies to come in, instead you get the phased, husky, solid vocal from Lisa as the whole thing soars into a wholly electronic world of chunky rhythms, percussive beats, synth melodies which dance on the waves of rhythm as the vocals have a warmth and passion to them. Gradually the whole thing piles layer on layer, intensifies and becomes this burning cauldron of train-like rhythms and electronic delights, sweeping space synths taking it all down to the superb rhythm base before that abruptly ends and, barely pausing for breath, they sail into "Unique", here the same feel of rhythm as the previous train-ride, now shuffling under synths like solar flares, soaring out into space, as the atmospheric vocal from Lisa completes the magical spell. The wondrously chunky electro-percussive and electronic rhythms stride out in classic Banco De Gaia styled ambience, but instead of climbing ever higher, they go for dynamics, and drop down to allow the beauty of the smoky vocal to weave it spell before the rhythms kick back in, the synths ebb and flow on top and it all drives forward once again, an absolute gem of a track that you'll want to play and play and play. "Leaves" has synth melodies and refrains that linger in your head long after it's gone, more multi-tracked chunky rhythms and a sky-high vocal from Lisa which just flies like an eagle over the instrumental ambience going on below and all around. The arrangement twists and turns through light and shade, the vocal is mesmerising and the track, for all it's brevity, is just amazing. "Poison" continues the feel only more strung out, if anything, a more rounded, flowing vocal that's harmonised and distant as the musical arrangement goes in so many places, it'll take you several listens just to take it all in, yet the overall effect is one of flowing beauty mixed with chunky chill-out as all manner of electronic textures, melodies and rhythms flow gracefully under and around Lisa's impassioned lead vocal. "Lament" Is a more solid, slightly slower track, with an assortment of revolving melodies and Lisa's magical voice lifting off into the night sky with authority, conviction and heartfelt passion, slowly soaring onwards and upwards over the slow shudder of drums and the vast expanse of textures and melodies that surround, the piece seeming very solid but with a beating heart of yearning desire. "GPS" shimmers and shines for the first part as ambient voices are barely heard over the swirl of electronics as Lisa's vocal flies in on the wind before a deep, solid rhythm begins as bass throbs, the keys create the melodies, the undercurrents ebb and flow, before electro-percussive beats introduce the next round of vocals as the song flows into an open sea of synths, rhythms and repeated melodies. "Bring It On" features another superb vocal performance on a track that's probably the most commercial one on the album so far, with a brief but memorable hook, more twists and turns to keep you hooked, solid rhythms to get you dancing, vocals of wide-eyed wonderment and smouldering passion, backdrops that shimmer, layers that build into a huge expanse of ambient beauty. The album closes with "End Of The Line" which, indeed, it is, as a graceful but mile-wide vocal from Lisa wafts into the air with authority and grace, as all around, the chunky rhythms, the organ melodies, the expanse of field recordings and multi-synth layers, all fly slowly to the skies as the track rises up like one of those majestic hot-air balloons, with you as the viewer, marvelling at the creation before it eventually fades out of view. Overall, this album is like a journey - to some it will be a metro-ride, to others, a drive through the heartland - but throughout, what you will witness all the way, is magic, beauty plus sights and sounds to touch your heart, a journey you'll never tire of taking. -- Andy Garibaldi (Dead Earnest)

1.1 Today Is Not the Day
1.2 Freedom Feels
1.3 Tumbleweed
1.4 Unique
1.5 Leaves
1.6 Poison
1.7 Lament
1.8 GPS
1.9 Bring It on
1.10 End of the Line

Arthur Loves Plastic: Strings

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