Laurie Anderson: Homeland (Nonesuch)

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Laurie Anderson: Strange Perfumes
Laurie Anderson: Homeland (Nonesuch)

From the accompanying DVD, you sense this should have been a double CD for us to fully appreciate the long arc and nuances of this, Anderson's first album in a decade.

Anderson's work is allusive rather than literal or descriptive, but in these often disturbing, melancholy and dislocated meditations on the state of her country, some thread is missing between her feeling “homeland” has fascistic as well as mom'n'apple pie qualities (as she says in the DVD film The Story of the Lark about how the album developed).

As always Anderson's voice – cool, disembodied and, in the case of her alter-ego Fenway Bergamot, masculine – is engrossing. The musical settings of strings, exotic vocals from Tuvan singer Aidysmaa Koshkendey and electrobeats of haunting minimalism are equally so.

Anderson imbues small things like snowfall and sleep with great import – which means the big issues of foreign policy, words (“In America we like solutions,” she says before listing hair solutions alongside debt and world solutions) and characters in social or spiritual motion can go simply suggested.

The idea of memory is prevalent, and this works best when it engages with more simple, human concerns (the hypnotic Falling) than when it aims for the Big Picture (the disco-churn of Only An Expert) or on Bergamot's discourse Another Day in America.

So, an epic reduced to sketches, a concept rendered manageable – to its cost.

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