Anomie Belle – Flux
The full length debut from multi-discipline artist Anomie Belle, Flux, marks the emergence of an important singer/songwriter with a well-rounded approach to traditional forms. None of the twelve songs on Flux deviate so completely from songwriting norms that their effects are scarcely recognizable, but Belle never fails to overturn listener’s expectations and twist familiar structures to her own devices. The production emphasizes artistic effect over sonic clarity – some sounds are slightly fuzzed over, rendered indistinct, or else blurred a little, but atmosphere is heavily stressed. She pursues trip hop, lightly classical, electronica, and dance styles with a singleness of purpose, but she never fails to bring those differing elements together in an impressive wall of sound. Belle has been a creator since her early pre-teen years and the songwriting on Flux shows an astonishing completeness of vision due, in part, to that long apprenticeship she’s lodged.
You get a good glimpse of that vision on the opening song. “Saturday Gives” has the ideal balance of classical inclinations, light-handed trip hop, and a colorful electronica and dance mix. Belle’s vocal isn’t cleanly laid over the backing track, but she conveys her message regardless. The post-production effects applied to her voice give it a theatrical quality, but it’s satisfying rather than heavy-handed and hokey. “As We Are” is the album’s first hard-edged moment of outright mix of trip hop, electronica, and dance. Belle’s vocals are a bit lost in the sonic assault, but she pushes through the sound clutter and exerts her influences, at least, as another instrumental color on the canvas. The song “Lovers” is the album’s first single and has a wild modern edge that challenges the listener from the outset and never backs off from the first note o, but it doesn’t even prepare listeners for the fully-rounded success of “As Summer Bleeds Daylight”. This poetically titled song is an equally revelatory lyrical experience – it is obvious that Belle’s talents extend in many different directions and this polymathmatical virtuosity never distances listeners from the material.
“Tumult” is one of the album’s best and purest slices of outright electronica. The lyrical content is exceptionally well tailored to the assertive backing track and Belle’s voice hits the words at key points in juxtaposition to the arrangement. “Salt Spring” and “The Good Life” are the album’s final peaks and for similar reasons. The first song of the two, “Salt Spring”, is one of the most sensitive songs on the album, but it features much of the same musical assault heard on earlier and later songs. The difference lies in Belle’s vocal – there’s even more care and deliberation taken with the phrasing than earlier tracks and there’s a growing atmosphere heard in this song that seems quite appropriate to its position later in the running order. “The Good Life” is the closest that Flux comes to a solo performance. It’s Belle’s voice and piano alone and, despite a smattering of production effects applied to piano, it’s more unadorned than anything else on the album. It’s the most fitting conclusion for Flux and has a plaintive simplicity not found elsewhere in the track listing. Flux is a release of tremendous diversity, but the emotional mood remains consistent throughout the moving the second half of the album in a much more introspective, elegiac direction makes for a excellent ending.
9 out of 10 stars.
William Elgin III