Last year, I discovered the dreamy slow-core of France’s Heligoland, which was highlighted by Karen Vogt’s rich vocals. For her latest project, Vogt has teamed up with German producer Phillip Bückle. (Sidenote: I find it more than just a little fitting that I began listening to this right around the time I wrote about revisiting Everything But the Girl’s Walking Wounded; Vogt’s voice possesses a soulfulness not unlike Tracey Thorn’s.)
The duo’s five-song Before We Rise EP immediately takes you back to the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, when artists were fusing indie-pop, shoegaze, jungle, and drum n’ bass, with the resulting sounds receiving various labels like “trip-hop,” “drum n’ bliss,” and “indietronica.”
I’ll admit, part of why I like songs like “Before You Rise” and “Layers” is due to nostalgia, as the duo layer shimmering drones and textures over skeletal hip-hop beats in a fashion that recalls Bowery Electric’s masterful Lushlife. But in Bückle/Vogt’s case, the vocals are much more upfront than Martha Schwendener’s ever were, as Vogt sings/sighs/purrs lines like “It doesn’t matter where you are/We’re all in this place and we’re here forever” and “I won’t get hung up on what they say/All of these words are just layers.”
The contorted and distorted beats on “I Can Convince Myself” recall Massive Attack’s Mezzanine while “New to Me” ends the album on a more playful note: ping-ponging marimba-esque beats bounce around in the background as Vogt’s voice grows particularly breathless while singing “It gets through to me/Like the way you let your heart get closer to mine… I like the way you let yourself fall apart.” It’s a nice end to an EP that plays with a style that could easily sound dated and clichéd now, but doesn’t thanks to how well Bückle and Vogt pull it off.
Welcome to Opus. My name’s Jason Morehead and I’ve been blogging for 20+ years. To date, I’ve posted 4,074 articles on numerous topics including music, movies, anime, pop culture, web development, technology, and religion.
If you enjoy reading Opus and want to ensure its continued existence, become a supporter today. Contributions help offset the costs of hosting and maintaining the site.