Sunday, July 4, 2010

CD Review: EMILIANA TORRINI – ME AND ARMINI (Rough Trade / Remote Control)

Monday, September 15, 2008 

While the musical and lyrical shift isn't seismic from her much-loved Fisherman's Woman album, there is a sense that Emiliana Torrini (not Emmalina Torrini as seems more commonly known) is growing quickly. Me And Armini sees her experimenting a lot with simple yet unusual rhythms, indicates how little in common Icelandic musicians can have with each other and what a unique prospect she really is. From the stark cover shot (gone are the flaxen tresses adorning Fisherman's Woman) to the stripped-back sounds within, Me And Armini has to be her most considered and honest depiction of her craft thus far.

Producer Dan Carey's 'no demo, one take' approach richly rewards Torrini's subject matter. Like Bjork's domestic retreat in Vespertine, this is a record you feel you could know the artist through; understand their outlook on life, how they approach its challenges and how they form their will. There is also an effectively restrained use of electronic melodies and electric guitar so don't file this under folk because of the lyrical content and subtlety. Torrini did, after all, pen one of Kylie's best efforts, Slow.

Big Jumps sees Torrini riding a skipping beat, daring you to break some bones and take some risks as she so clearly has done. The title track is ska-flecked ode to an obsessive fan's love, Jungle Drums is a glimpse inside a love-wrung heart of someone who knows theirs before giving it away. There are repeated references to losing the tie of the telephone and instead jumping down the throat of life. One track likely to garner attention is Gun, a stark, Harvey-esque (PJ or Mick), reverb-drenched ode sung from the perspective of a rifle and recorded in an ice cave. A song that menaces all the more for it's positioning between sweeter ballads. It's quieter tracks like those, the closing song Bleeder for example, that chill with their tender lyrics and sparse string arrangements - the aim so shorn and true that it's hard to imagine how anyone could not be moved.

Likely to secure established fans and reward the curious, Me And Armini is not music made with a silent agenda to wind up in TV dramas or indie flicks. Though her gorgeously concise lyrics and the songs' dry sounds will resonate with people and fictional characters far and wide and are likely to age well, this is Torrini's voyage alone and one thoroughly worth taking.

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