Olga Bell – Tempo

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Listened to this with absolutely nothing to go on except the cuteness of the cover, only to discover that I was listening to an artist who had joined Dirty Projectors in 2012 (not surprising – her vocal style, specifically, the unpredictability of the melodies, recall the Projectors), and more importantly, that I had stumbled onto one of this year’s best albums. This sounds like club music, but experienced from outside the club: the dark pulse of the arpeggiated synth of “Ritual” (recalling the Knife’s “Silent Shout”), outsourcing the diva vocals to Sara Lucas to give us a 90s’ house song; the hip-hop hype-woman that appears in the middle of “Power User” (the album’s best song); the bursting “Randomness” (check out the celestial melody introduced in the coda). Those are the headiest songs, but even “Dippio,” “ATA,” and “Stomach It”’s “yeah”‘s seem sourced from mainstream tropes, but not in a way that’s parodic; wherein an Russian-born artist tries to approach and understand them on her own terms. Even songs that aren’t so charged are worthy of our attention, either for her vocals or some other worthwhile detail: the mental breakdown of “ATA” (“Am I dead? Am I? Am I? AM I FUCKING USELESS?”); the sludge-crawl bass of “Zone.” And closer “America” is a delight: the absolute unease of the pre-chorus (“Is that what you fear? That you’re not forever?”) to the way she sings the title’s word and the song shifts from darkness to a chorus of colour. If you read nothing else in this paragraph, consider this: anyone who can take an experience as extraverted as dancing and bring it into her own (or your) introverted world is worthy of our attention.

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2 responses to “Olga Bell – Tempo

  1. “…more importantly, that I had stumbled onto one of this year’s best albums. This sounds like club music, but experienced from outside the club…”

    Wow! Nice find!

  2. Pingback: Dirty Projectors – Dirty Projectors | Free City Sounds·

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