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Välvē — Tiny Pilots
(Slowfoot SLOLP039, 2023, CD / LP / DL)

by Henry Schneider, Published 2024-04-14

Tiny Pilots Cover art

VÄLVĒ is the avant-prog duo of Chlöe Herington (lead vocals, reeds, piano, and programming) and Emma Sullivan (bass guitar, microKorg, trumpet, and vocals) from Chrome Hoof. Tiny Pilots is their second full length album, a sonic exploration of imaginary worlds and literary influences, through experimental song forms. Each of the ten tracks, a mixture of songs and instrumentals, is unique. Here is a run down of my impressions. The album opens with “Delicate Engines,” a delicate and minimal song with mechanical clock ticking, bass, and vocals that tickles your imagination. Next is “Gertrude’s List,” a minimal chamber rock tune with piano and brass sequences. Then you encounter “The Hot House” with bird song, buzzing (is it bees or heavily processed voices?), odd scraping sounds, vintage drum machine rhythms, and acoustic guitar for an enjoyable, but experimental, instrumental. “Man in the Moon” follows with acoustic guitar, vocals, glockenspiel, and drums with layered instruments for a very pleasant experience. Then there is the throw back to the K7 culture of “Red Moon Rising.” Muffled electric piano note sequences, analog synths, and sound bites evoke the DIY vibe of the late 80s before digital equipment hit the music scene. “The Ice House (Revisited)” is a sinister soundscape built with analog synths, snapping percussion sequences, and chords that has a nostalgic vibe. “Lights (Sparkled)” begins as an electro-acoustic instrumental with sloshing water and acoustic guitar that transitions to a great song augmented by violin. This is a catchy song that just takes a while to develop. “Atmos #4” follows, another instrumental consisting of bird song, water, and other odd cavernous sounds that are truly sound events in time and space, with harmonium entering for the last half of the track. Next is the literary reference song “B-612,” the asteroid inhabited by The Little Prince. There is a definite Urban Sax feel to this track with its repeating saxophone sequences. And the album ends with the outstanding “Perfumes of Arabia,” an acid folk song replete with drones, shimmering sounds, and an ethereal atmosphere that slowly fades to an a cappella chorus, bringing to mind Sandy Denny, Pentangle, Fairport Convention, etc. Overall, Tiny Pilots is quite an enjoyable album.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): Chrome Hoof, Välvē

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