BEST OF 2017: 11. Melanie De Biasio ‘Lilies’

I’ve still not got over the first time I heard the percussive kickstart of ‘Gold Junkies’, the second track on ‘Lilies’. People do all sorts of ludicrously dangerous things to achieve the kind of thrill that this piece of music gives me every time I put it on. Push the volume up, and then a bit further, and ignore everything else for a few minutes. It will pull you deep into its world. Then, and here’s the slightly bizarre bit, having been fully immersed in it, try and describe what the song is actually made from. Tricky, isn’t it? ‘Gold Junkies’ is a fine representation of the majesty of ‘Lilies’, a record that is as masterful a manipulation of textures as anything since ‘Spirit Of Eden’. They may not share too much musical DNA, but that sonic skill is undeniable.

lilies

For example, what is the noise being used initially to sustain the rhythm in ‘Let Me Love You’? De Biasio’s vocals seem to roam in and around the time signature of the track, whispered moments gathering momentum with the piece. ‘Sitting In The Stairwell’ uses just a metronomic click, the slightest of backing vocals and De Biasio’s voice, seemingly beamed in via vintage equipment, to tell a stark story violence on the streets: “there are roses on the sidewalk, there is blood upon the ground.” The electronic pulse of ‘Afro Blue’ is curiously lulling, giving way to the stark intensity of ‘All My Worlds’, which apparently lasts almost seven minutes but is over in an overwhelmingly intense heartbeat.

In the sleeve notes, De Biasio has written:

“The urge to surrender in sound, at home intimately.

All songs are instinctive movements of love and resistance.

The sound is humid, hot, close and direct.

It is the core of a woman.”

In four, short sentences she has done a pretty decent sales pitch for ‘Lilies’ and the four adjectives to describe the sound of it are perfectly chosen. Closing track ‘And My Heart Goes On’ appears to use heavy breathing as looping percussion, while a frankly malevolent flute weaves its way around a rather manic vocal. It’s a quite remarkable end to a quite remarkable album. No matter how well I may have communicated my love for this music, I simply can’t do it justice with mere words. Listen, dear reader. Listen.

 

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