Metamorphine - Leandra

reviewed by lec** | Saturday, July 18 2009 @ 01:57:00 GMT        

Cover art

Metamorphine

Release date: February 22, 2008
Length: 55:16
Genre: Darkwave, Experimental

Tracklist
  1. Noisy Awareness
  2. Lie to Me
  3. The Art of Dreaming
  4. Coloured
  5. Naked Eyes
  6. Angeldaemon
  7. Tyberi Folla
  8. Son of Venus (Danny's Song)
  9. Lullaby
  10. Pi
  11. Inverted Mirrors of Decay
9/10
outstanding
Reviews » Music

Your rating: [n/a]

I discovered this little gem of an album a mere few days ago, thanks to the recommendation of another user on Last.fm. Anyway who is this Leandra? She's a concert pianist who studied piano and composition in the former USSR, and who played guitar in a grunge band, Venusbabydoll, composing classical music and having a jazz and a black metal side project. A rather interesting bio, and as anyone should know – there are only two types of people: those with a bio, and those without. Optionally you may ignore that last sentiment, but what I had really wanted to say is that it's amazing how excellent music such as this escapes so many people. I had never heard of Leandra or this brilliant album before, and I had trouble finding any information at all about the artist online. Apparently, this girl also has a six-track EP that preceded this release, but I haven't had the opportunity to give it a listen yet.

Metamorphine puts you into a dark dream-state, a realm of hallucinations and the unnatural, the frightening and uncertain. It's a bit like going without sleep for a few days, the lyrics on the album are confusing and unspecific, each word just increasing the feeling of utter chaos and decadence. Leandra serves these texts backed by prevalently piano-driven repeating phrases, and glued together with a warm bass line and drums. Choirs, strings and little percussive noises as well as electronic blasts from time to time create an overall very intense album. Nearing the end, it all calms down, moving more to the piano-and-vocal scheme, but becoming more epic, with harsh electric guitars (“Pi”). The lyrics, though pretty abstract, feel intensely personal and the specific method with which they are sung makes the album what it is. Lyric-wise, the last track, Inverted Mirrors of Decay, is my favourite. Her voice is very versatile; babyish with a lip-smacking, tongue-rolling quality in Coloured, and spectral, hoarse and scary in the aforementioned Mirrors of Decay.

If someone told me that most of the tracks on this album were constructed by using a single theme as a backbone, and repeating over and over again, I wouldn't be very excited. Having listened to this album, I've changed my mind – it's clear that it can be mind blowing. Each song presents a very trance-like melody, a melody dark and weird, but memorable and singable. Leandra's vocals are unusually precise and remarkably creepy. The first track, Noisy Awareness, is a list-like chant imposed above a recurring piano pattern and electronic scratching and twinkling sounds. From there on, the music flows like fabric over an ancient landscape. It keeps getting creepier and then starts getting darker from Angeldaemon onwards. The last two tracks are beautiful and haunting, ending this album perfectly.

At first, the album felt a bit unpromising, but I found myself wanting to listen to it more and more. The ambient and tunes grow on you quickly, and surely – it now definitely has a place among my favourite albums of the genre.

It's nowhere near typical darkwave either. The second track culminates at the ending chorus with strong electric guitar riffs, and the third track also makes extensive use of them. There are choir backings (rather subtle, really) on many tracks, and glockenspiel “plink”s, which are common to all tracks.

“Yes I'm sorry, though it wasn't me”, Leandra repeats in “The Art of Dreaming”. That cloudy, dreamy track gives way to the rather (lyric-wise) experimental “Coloured”“Your dream is not coloured, I'll get you neither a pillow nor a blanket” she states while the playful bass lines continue. Another superb track is “Lie to me”, a personal favourite.

Musically, I really liked the warm, slow bass lines that give depth to each track, removing some of the coldness the piano and drums introduce. Also, everything is rather quiet and laid back, there is no rush or frenzy in impressing the chaotic and energetic nature of the songs upon the listener. Though the songs are energetic, the bleakness typical of the darkwave genre is still present.

Finally...
If you like darker music, try this record for size. Björk and Portishead fans will probably like Leandra's quiet electronic touches, while the "insane" experimental style will also definitely appeal to Emilie Autumn fans. Metamorphine is very atypical in many ways, strange even. It's really cool music though, and although my first reactions weren't uniformly positive as they are now, it's the kind of music that grows on you with time. I know I listened to each track about 5 or 6 times individually on my second listen, it's thrilling and I love it!

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