Bat For Lashes: Fur and Gold (UNSpin/EMI)

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Bat For Lashes: Horse and I
Bat For Lashes: Fur and Gold (UNSpin/EMI)

From the opening track with its repeated ripples of minimalism, the ethereal vocals, a sense of eerie strings and theremin-like synth, and the barely suppressed sense of urgency you know that something very special is in store from this oddly-named UK outfit which is the vehicle for singer/multi-instrumentalist/visual artist Natasha Khan.

That sense of quiet drama, repressed emotion, strange fairytales and a catch-all approach to instrumental possibilities (violin, autoharp, harmonium, foot tapping etc) is everywhere on this cinematically conceived album. Some of these songs -- which sound like they come from a disembodied voice -- reflect back to Kate Bush at her most innovative, or latch themselves onto reflective indie-rock, or have one ear on the world of contemporary classical music.

Or chamber music.

Khan doesn't shy away from offering spoken word passages, or referencing Phil Spector/60s girl groups in the thumping beat which drives the radio-directed What's A Girl To Do?

There is also a strange and ghostly quality at work here (an impression prompted by the sometimes spare arrangements behind her breathy vocals) which is utterly seductive.

This diverse and consistently interesting album has had rave reviews in Britain ("one of the most haunting, stupendous debuts in ages" wheezed the Sunday Times in a fairly typical comment) and you'll get no dissent from Elsewhere on this one.

Quite extraordinary.

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Glenn Bittle - Nov 25, 2008

Thanks for putting this up, Graham. Some quite haunting stuff here with excellent instrumentation and mood. This might sound a bit left field but some of this is like Peter Gabriel might have sounded like if he were female. Maybe, maybe not. Glenn

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