It’s a shame gothic is most closely associated with moody rock and alt acts like Salem. After all, sorcery isn’t just confined to black magic. What about all the white witches, the wiccens, the pagans? It seems they’ve all been terribly overlooked or undermined by a crooked labelling system. Why we label Fever Ray electronic and not gothic is beyond me: you only have to take a single look at Karin Dreijer Andersson to know she’s no polished electro queen yet we throw her in with the likes of MNDR, New Young Pony Club et al anyway. So unfortunately, I have to say that “Ring” is electronic. But its heart lies somewhere else entirely.
Glasser, aka LA girl Cameron Mesirow, concentrates on the dark and foreboding side of electronic music, giving it a strange earthy twist to stamp a unique mark on the genre. Often her work on “Ring” sounds very DIY, much like the debut Chairlift album, as it does on first track “Apply”. But at the same time the layered chanting and pounding beat gives the track a tribal feel without disconnecting from her own heart. Her voice soars and builds into something more powerful than you perhaps first expect. The same can be said for “Home”, where it is pulled forward only by Mesirow’s voice and the fast glockenspiel sounds almost wooden, like it was carved out of a piece tree bark. But this hides the fact that “Home” is an extremely compelling track when it sets in. It bursts into life with a flourish of swooning strings and underneath it all is a single violin playing a mournful melody that could melt anyone’s heart. Mesirow is obviously very clever. Like Fever Ray she sings about domestic life and how mundane it is but counterracts this by hiding her words under a medley of sounds and melodies. The effect is always haunting and cavernous, as if the record was recorded in a deep cave or abandoned mansion.
She is a woman unafraid to experiment with her genre, so while her voice can be compared to that of School of Seven Bells’ Deheza twins, she avoids other significant comparisons in her music by fiddling with small noises and a range of instruments. For instance, on closing track “Clamour” she eomplys the use of a brass section, evoking thoughts of the more experimental and memorable moments of Bjork’s “Volta”. Mesirow can’t be contained purely in the electronic genre, but is part of a wonderful new wave of dark women who love to dabble in the dark arts, which started with Bat For Lashes’ “Fur and Gold” and has now moved on to the likes of Warpaint and Zola Jesus.
The album isn’t exactly flawless, neither is it completely accessible, particularly for those used to the steely nature of modern electro-pop, but numerous plays of this album reward the listener greatly. Give it a chance and even the more challenging moments prove to be a goldmine of creativity and gothic musings. This “Ring” has a diamond embedded in it.