Album Review

Some Kind of Eden

Some Kind of Eden

by Dear Time's Waste


9 / 10
5th October, 2012

Reviewed by Martyn Pepperell


The Room for Rent EP, Aucklander Claire Duncan's first formal project as Dear Time's Waste, was one of the better local releases of 2009. Armed with frosty yet warm vocal chords and an astute, literary voice as a lyricist, her word were delivered in a breezy manner, literally bouncing off the cold wind over a thick, textural sound world of rolling drums (or virtually nonexistent drums), rumbling bass, swirling guitar lines and beyond. Vocally intimate and bedsit, you often felt like Claire was sitting just across from you, singing directly to you. Inversely, within the instrumentation, a genuine outdoorsy (and very pictorial) set of feelings and moods were captured. This was a journey through the splendour of the natural landscape, juxtaposed with rich storybook narration which spoke to the human condition.

Come late 2010, she followed this phenomenal first effort up with her debut full-length album Spells. Still prizing a set of conventions heard across Room For Rent, Spells expanded her filmic, black and white song panoramas. Built around a chunk of short songs which felt substantially longer than they actually were (in a good way), the record was seen by some as a step backwards from Room For Rent. Reappraised in 2012 however, the spines of these songs remain very firm, actually representing a tasteful forward-looking development into a more widescreen locale. If anything, these criticisms probably stemmed from a unconscious (or conscious) yearning for the fresh taste of first discovery that came inextricably bundled up with Room For Rent and all its riches.

This time around, with Some Kind of Eden, her second full-length album, Claire steps just enough sideways, opening a door into a parallel (yet familiar enough) universe of fresh possibility for Dear Time's Waste. Keeping the essence of the ascendant folkloric art rock found throughout Room For Rent and Spells, she squeezes this vibrant energy into a set of motifs, structures and shapes born within the world of spare room/bedroom electronica. Heading towards the blurry shoegaze beat music machinations of the likes of Clams Casino, Broadcast, LA Vampires and even Maria Minerva. Claire tempers this with gestures which still connect her with influences like Blonde Redhead, The Cure and Cocteau Twins. Alongside this you have moments on songs like 'Strings' and 'Heavy / High' which briefly (or not so briefly) position aspects of Some Kind of Eden alongside the indie RnB of Dirty Projectors and How To Dress Well. I can't divine what the overall critical stance will be, but speaking personally, this is exactly the interzone I've wanted to hear Claire inhabit since experiencing her song 'Candy Apple Grey' (a collaboration with fine arts cubist beatmaker Julien Dyne) in 2011.

Ten songs long, something Some Kind of Eden shares with Spells is a command of mood and tone virtually time altering in quality, again leading to a series of short songs which feel longer, and by merit of this, become unique worlds of their own. Maintaining a sharp voice as a wordsmith, her lyrics seem to slide in and out of focus throughout the songs, letting the emphasis shift between evoking imagery through phrases and sounds. This quality becomes the most apparent on 'Fortune' where the line "I am a legion of concrete reason" hangs heavily within the mind of a long time after listening. While perhaps the most minimal of her existing works, there are still serious depths to mine here. Twenty so plays in, I'm still hearing new things. Evaluated under this light, I can comfortably describe Some Kind of Eden one of my favourite local records of 2012. Outstanding work.


Heavy/High
Heavy/High, by Dear Time's Waste
From: Some Kind Of Eden, (2012)
http://www.undertheradar.co.nz/review/756/Some-Kind-of-Eden.utr


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