Music Reviews

The Hope Blister

… smile’s ok

4AD/Mammoth

I knew that there was something unique about this record when our dog paid attention to the beginning of this album. She never pays attention to any of the music that gets played in our house.

Turns out that The Hope Blister is a pretty special album. It’s “sort of a sequel to This Mortal Coil” from the Coil and 4AD founder Ivo Watts-Russell.

Interestingly enough, the eight songs on the album are all covers of songs done by artists such as Neil Halstead (Slowdive, Mojave 3), Chris Knox (Tall Dwarves), Alison and Jim Shaw (Cranes), David Sylvian, Brian Eno, and John Cale.

The album is bathed almost entirely in an ethereal mist of purposefully sparse sounds. Lead singer Louise Rutowski (This Mortal Coil) has a strong, haunting vocal delivery that at times can veer from slightly gravelly (“Sweet Unknown”) to operatic and choir-ish (“Outer Skin”).

Many of the songs are based on stretched sounds created from a bass and strings, with bits and pieces of percussion, saxophones or other noises flitting through the quietness. One notable exception is the version of Eno’s “Spider and I,” which starts off with louder string movements and buried vocals before degenerating into screeching cacophony. It certainly stands out on the album, but for the wrong reasons.

The Hope Blister is a quiet, somewhat muted blend of orchestral elements and ambient tones that might take a few listens to fully appreciate. But it has a simple beauty, aside from one song, that can be hauntingly peaceful and enjoyable. Mammoth Records, The Broadstreet Building, 101 B Street, Carrboro, NC 27510-1834; http://www.mammoth.com


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