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Album Review
Haunted By Colors

Haunted By Colors
by Shadowbox

Pictures Music

Review Date
14th August 2012
Reviewed by
Martyn Pepperell

In 1975, the acclaimed French comics artist Jean 'Moebius' Giraud created Arzach, a collection of four wordless short stories, which were published in the definitive cult French science fiction/fantasy magazine Metal Hurlant. Essentially an expression of the fluidity of the dream world and the subconscious, Arzach documented fragments from the journey of a silent warrior of the same name, who rides a pterodactyl-like creature through a surreal, dilapidated landscape.

Pure oneironaut (an explorer of dreams), Arzach is but one an example of a theme sometimes explored within art - lucid dreaming pushed to extremes, in an intense display of inner exploration. Within the realms of cinema and literature, this theme has been explored successfully through movies such as Inception and Waking Life and the Dream Cycle writing of H.P Lovecraft.

While this theme has regularly had its moment within the discipline of music, over the last few years, song aesthetics hinging on the halfway state between awake and dreaming, and the intense, fluid freedom of lucid dreaming have had a strong presence within youth musical forms. So, viewed under the illuminative light of all of the above, mid 2012 brings us Haunted By Colors, the new EP from Brooklyn, New York based singer, instrumentalist and electronic beatmaker Shadowbox (aka Bonnie Baxter).

An internalised creative, Shadowbox works from home, creating buoyant synthetic songwriter beat compositions informed by the depths of her internal dreamworld and a healthy interest in reading and thought. Reading and thought somewhat specifically grounded in the realms of space travel, metaphysics, futurism, the relationship between technology and nature. All tied together with a love of sound sculpture, her music is essentially a tangible expression of the world beyond the physical.

On Haunted By Colors Shadowbox explores these themes and motifs over six richly detailed soundworlds as much song as they are sonic arts. As a singer, she has a soft, elastic vocal tone, one which rests over her spacious digital instrumentals like a thick layer of fog descending on a city during a cold winters night. Lyrically speaking however, her voice work shifts from narrative driven to non-linear, sitting in a perfect pitch representation of the strange yet natural twists and turns of the dreaming mind.

Underscored by sweeping pads and sparkly melody lines, hypnotic drums, subtle yet effective incidental noises and bass lines which literally ebb and flow, the backing tracks which support her voice ripple with mercurial sonic magic. Mostly hovering at a dance tempo BPM speed, the music, while definitely suitable for the heavy bass rigours of a proper nightclub environment, also carries a very chilled out home listening vibe in tandem. Carving out a hinterland between the intellectual rigours of the avant-garde and primal physicality of the club, Haunted By Colors is a beautifully executed example of why while Elvis Costello famously scoffed at the idea of dancing to architecture, given the right moment and mind state, music can and will hit you in the head, heart and hips; at the same damn time.


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