Tara Jane O’Neil
Tara Jane O’Neil’s back catalog, with bands like Rodan, Retsin and Sonora Pine, is certainly ripe for a career-spanning compilation. I wouldn’t have pegged her solo material as being quite ready for such treatment, but I would’ve been wrong, because Bones is easily as enjoyable as her previous albums.
The title says it all; the disc is made up of stripped down versions of previously released material (culled largely from her most recent album, You Sound, Reflect, along with some studio tracks that didn’t see the light of day). Even though it’s familiar, the languid folk of the subtly tweaked opener “The Poisoned Mine” is actually superior to the final version. Elsewhere, TJO plays the part of rural futurist, giving in to experimental electronics. “Famous Yellow Belly” fades out on a false ending of distorted keyboards, only to be resurrected for a parting shot of soft metallic chirps. This ambience is molded into a concrete, rhythmic form on the wistful, stormy remix of “Bullhorn Moon,” while “Enter the House” is a revelation in glitchy motion sickness. O’Neil also includes two all-too-brief instrumentals, like nostalgic snapshots of backtracked feedback and elliptical, droning guitar progressions.
Remarkably, Bones feels like a cohesive statement despite being cobbled together from a variety of recording sessions over the past four or five years. O’Neil’s solo material up to this point has covered quite a bit of territory, but for every advancement in her sound, there remains an underlying ideal of low-key simplicity, that a reinvention done with a whisper can be just as powerful as one done with a bang.