Bella Union continue to captivate with their roster of artists who defy any easy-fit genres. Musician and songwriter Billie Lindahl, AKA. Promise and the Monster is based in Stockholm, and brings a dark sensibilty to her new album, which weaves dreamlike and corporeal imagery together.It’s all about teeth and bone, rocks, metal, machines and flesh. Produced by Lindahl’s friend Love Martinsen, who also shares instrumentation with her, it’s as unsettling as it is beautiful.It gnaws away at the brain like an animal chewing through tough road-kill.
With the title track and opener, you could be forgiven for thinking Lindahl is a creator of ballads. It’s soft and keening, like a lullaby. What this album really evokes though, is an as yet unmade psychedelic western. It’s the kind of music to give Tarantino a chubby, with desolate prairie howls (Hunter, Machines, Slow and Quiet ) and the reverberating ominous twang of Death Valley guitars.
The sheer scope of ambition is evident in the production throughout. Lindahl and Martinsen’s off-kilter instrumentation is unique: Hunter uses the Erhu, a Chinese violin, as Lindahl liked the idea of ‘weeping’ sounds in her instruments. Synths are wrapped around her voice, almost blurring at times. Her woozy, swooning vocals, always pushed front and centre, are multi-tracked in the eerie, gorgeous ambience of Julingvallen but sound warped in Fine Horseman, where Lindahl sings of ”strange thoughts running through my head”,as though she’s been deserted, left scorched and alone, fending for herself beside cowboy bones in the sun.
It’s as though late eighties Goth synth pop merged with Lana Del Ray and Ennio Morricone to become one solid unit. ”The taste of blood and metal must go with the tide,” Lindahl sighs, resigned to her fate in Hammering the Nails. Even the most poppy track, Time of the Season, feels out of place in today’s musical climate. As the big blood moon comes out over the horizon, this is the soundtrack playing, with its lazy late nights and half-remembered dreams. It’s at once hard to place and utterly familiar, a bewitching album with which to start the New Year.
Feed the Fire is released on Bella Union on January 22nd.