She Owl — Drifters EP
(Broken Toys, 2017, CD)
She Owl — Animal Eye
(Broken Toys BRT003, 2015, LP)
by Jon Davis, Published 2017-12-24
After the lovely debut She Owl album in 2013, I lost track of this Italian duo until the announcement of the new Drifters EP, and I took the opportunity to check out what I’d missed, namely Animal Eye from 2015. In addition to Jolanda’s evocative voice on lead and multi-tracked harmonies, these recordings feature her playing piano and other keyboards, with Demian Endian contributing drums and other percussion (generally somewhat minimal, and not including a standard kit), and guitar (again, on the subtle side). Three tracks on Animal Eye feature a guest bassist. The combination of Jolanda’s voice with piano and throbbing tom-toms presents an appealing sound, primal and direct, allowing all the parts to shine individually as well as contributing to the whole. On the opening track, “Dance of the Mothers,” extra spice is provided by harpsichord, and “Universe” features electric piano; kalimba shows up on a couple of tracks, and there’s also a harmonium in the mix. There’s a primitive pagan vibe to the music, and lyrics seem to deal with mystical topics involving nature, though they are more impressionistic than direct. While the backing arrangements are stellar, it’s really the beautiful vocals that provide the music’s primary appeal. Jolanda is not a singer who belts out melodies. She is subtle, sometimes quiet and breathy, at other times pure and soaring. The arrangements often feature many parts, all working together to provide an ever-changing tapestry of shapes and colors.
The new Drifters EP presents four songs, and moves in a more modern direction, managing to sound more like a conventional band without losing the essence of She Owl’s music. The drums sound more like a traditional kit, including a snare drum, which was notably absent on Animal Eye. There are also more defined bass notes filling out the lower end of the sound. But those are superficial trappings — these four songs are worthy additions to the She Owl canon. This is music that envelops your mind, best experienced with eyes closed and ears open, letting the extraordinary (in the sense of being above or outside the ordinary) sounds wash over you. She Owl is highly recommended to fans of Happy Rhodes, Bat for Lashes, and Tori Amos’s early work.
Related artist(s): Jolanda Moletta / She Owl
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more