Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Free and legal MP3 from Jen Olive (looped undulating acoustic guitar, layered vocals, wonderful melodies)

"Wire Wire" - Jen Olive
     A swirly, heady stew of loop-addled undulating acoustic guitar and shimmering layers of vocals, "Wire Wire" feels rich and complex while still offering the simple pleasure of a good melody, smartly delivered. While comparisons are at once inevitable and instructive--Björk meets Jane Siberry meets Juana Molina is one way to conceive of her sound--I am enchanted by the head-turning newness of the end result. Olive writes outside the box of the beat, floating the melodic line in the verse like elusive tinsel that decorates the tree without touching the branches. The warm sturdiness of the short chorus becomes all the more delectable, almost mysteriously so; she sings, "I could get/Lost in it/No regret," to a straightforward melody that out of context might not strike your ear and yet here hooks and nourishes in a wonderful, almost uncanny way.
     I have no idea how someone could conceive of writing this sort of song and it may well be because no one person did; it turns out that Warm Robot, Olive's new album, is the product of a unique collaboration between the singer/songwriter and Andy Partridge, who personally signed her to his Ape House Records label. (The XTC front man has called Olive "this astounding allegro algorithm from Albuquerque.") She recorded the basic tracks--guitar and voice and some idiosyncratic percussion sketches made on found objects like kids' blocks and wine bottles--and Partridge arranged and enhanced to create the final songs. The two didn't meet face to face until the album was already finished.
     The Ape House blog by the way has a two-part podcast online featuring the entire album with track-by-track commentary by Olive, worth checking out if you have time.

And I stand corrected on the original assumption that the guitar was looped. Apparently it's Olive playing live. Which makes this song all the more original, says me.

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