Jessica Bailiff - Hour Of The Trace
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Jessica Bailiff
Hour Of The Trace

Kranky is one of those labels that I enjoy so much that I'd pretty much buy anything I saw on the label if I found it for the right price. Not only do groups like Godspeed You Black Emperor and Labradford make their home there, but others like Bowery Electric and Low have released albums on the label as well. They've sort of carved out a niche for themselves in the drone/ambient side of post rock (except GYBE! of course) and over the years they've managed to build up quite a solid list of releases.

Jessica Bailiff has many things in common with artists on the label and after hearing this (her second album), I can't quite decide whether I'm sucked in by the sound or whether it will merely be another droney release that I put on once in awhile when I'm looking for something soothing. To give an idea of the sound, think of either a version of Labradford with a female singer or perhaps Low (Bailiff actually recorded the album with Alan Sparhawk with Mimi Parker helping with some duties) crossed with the quieter side of Flying Saucer Attack or Amp. There are washes of sound and ethereal vocals and organs and spaced-out disembodied guitars that cover the course of 50 minutes.

Of course, there are only 7 tracks on the release and one of them clocks in at a whopping 20 minutes. This track, "How Our Perception Of Distance Is Changed With Each Passing Hour" is sort of a four-part composition of sorts. For the first 6 or so minutes, several quite tones are mingled together into kind of a haunting drift before a huge wall of guitar (that's feels like a blizzard in a soothing but nearly overwhelming sort of way) breaks the quiet before eventually fading into nearly nothing again. That subtle quiet continues on before one keyboard and then two make their way in and over one another and shimmer out the rest of the track. There are some nice sounds made in the track, but if you don't have patience, you'll find yourself jumping forward to the next track.

There are actual tracks on the release as well, and the album actually starts out with 5 of them before launching into the longer instrumental track just mentioned. "Crush" is pure shoegazer joy with layerd keyboards and light vocals by Bailiff while "Toska" goes more of an earthly route with acoustic guitar and some light percussion. "After Hours" is by far the loudest track on the disc with feedback-laced guitars and rumbling bassline, while "Amnesia" does right by its name with spooky, woozy sounding guitars and vocals that sound like they're bouncing around inside your head.

One of the highlights of the disc, though, is the beautiful track entitled "Warren." With a super warm sounding organ, a plucked acoustic guitar, and the far-off rumble of a bass drum, the dreamy vocals of Bailiff find their perfect match. Although the album jumps around a bit in terms of what sort of sound it wants to make, it's by no means a weak disc. If you're a fan of slowcore/shoegazer with female vocals, it may be worth it to check out.

rating: 6.2510
Aaron Coleman 2003-06-19 00:00:00