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Charlotte Church

EP 2 Alligator Wine Records

..or CCEP2 as I am calling this series. Ms Church is choosing to release a set of EPs utilising her current band lineup and in particular MD Jon Powell, who does seem to bring out the best in her voice and of course range, given the fact that each EP can focus on one or two elements of what she can sing and what she currently composes.

HOWEVER this time out, Charlotte is mining what you might suggest as minimal electronic-based songs. Not without their dynamics BUT eschewing horn sections, pedal steel guitar, rockier beats et al that would be out-of-place in such creations. And my personal problem is that…I simply don’t like this strand of music, whoever performs it. EVEN this artist who I admit I am dead keen on.

The nearest thing to this set would be Bjork, who I have never found riveting as I see style but for me little substance or perhaps Air, who overall are too wispy / transient to hold my attention. It’s a bit like your favourite relative giving you a birthday present of a garment you KNOW you are not going to wear…..whereas for other listeners this will be La Church arriving at the Gates of Heaven. So until CC sings with Marcus Miller’s band…..

Anyway, what’s here ?  ‘Glitterbombed’ was the promo lead cut from the EP and performed on the Jonathan Ross chat ( viz. feed the host his prepared gags) show here in England. For this Charlotte chose to wear a bizarre and striking get up suggesting Aztecs from Neptune ( now there’s a great name for a band) visiting Earth. Pulsing synth notes modulate around clatter-drums over an eerie guitar screech, cold is the setting as a soft vocal is pitched in fairy-tale  phrasing before toughening up into early Kate Bush strength. It’s a yearning performance but the ultra-slight delay on the pizzicato guitar or violin jars a tad against the time signature. Composed this way for the impact intended but something of a restless listen, whether intended or not.  The track floats away on strings, all kinda chilling.

‘Breach Of the Peace’ is already a feature of CC live shows, a steady light guitar vamp under an assured voice and emphatic cadence and puddingy drums. There ain’t much this lass can’t sing without sounding passionate, how she soars here. It’s still a cold sound though. On ‘The Mistress’ a harsh and ungainly electric piano figure platforms a treated vocal and overlaid operatic voices, should be in a Tim Burton film.

The solemn tempo of  ‘Nerve’ and double-tracked intoning again paints dark pictures, sonic texture games being played across the mix. That beautiful voice is best heard on this selection. Also she sounds most comfortable on this one and maybe listens to this stuff more than anything else in recent times ?  Closer ‘Lasts, or Eschaton’ starts breathy and I don’t have the faintest idea what it is all about, so please don’t ask. Maybe the Death of Music, which of course Katy Perky, Larry Piles and The Unwanted are working very hard upon…….nonetheless you might enjoy this track’s Martian hoedown coda.

Well I guess I’ve now spoiled my standing in the CC camp and they’ll NEVER make the SpaceFace cover artwork t shirt in tall-guy size now….sigh

Pete Sargeant

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