Boomkat Product Review:
A gossamer collection of tranquillised and dissociated material from the perennially underrated and consistently excellent Natalie Beridze, curling her distinctive vocals like incense smoke around faded pads and processed field recordings >> highly recommended if yr into Cucina Povera, Nozomu Matsumoto, Ernest Hood, Hiroshi Yoshimura, 'Tragedy'-era Julia Holter.
Currently a resident of Tbilisi after a spell in Berlin, Beridze parses some 14 years of previously unreleased work 2007-2021 on this new LP for Room 40, tapping into her synaesthetic sensibilities for a quietly shimmering, poetic suite of ambient-chamber pieces. There’s a particularly blissed and calming feel to proceedings, with smudged vocals unfurling glossolalic murmurs that say it without saying it, while her carefully layered arrangements lull us into soporific states; eyes shut and skin porous to feelings.
Heady and deeply personal, these tracks poke into Beridze's gooey core, inspired by memories of rummaging thru her dad's studio: the smell of books and glue, the feeling of an old armchair, the outline of a flickering desk lamp. Percussion is minimal throughout; syllables are extended and elongated, melodies bent into disquieting shapes, echoes modulated into neuron-teasing loops.
None of this material is experimental for the sake of being weird, Beridze manages to shape a mood that's coherent and challenging, but never walled off. On 'Drift', cinematic synths and strings heave beneath swirling vocal chops that never fully descend to darkness. Instead, Beridze uses her processing skills and compositional expertise to elide mystery and wonder.
The most obvious comparison - on tracks like 'Door Part II' or muted piano-led closer 'Sadness' - might actually be to Scandinavian jazz-electronic sounds, the sort of crossover experiments that have emerged from labels like Smalltown Supersound and Rune Grammofon over the years. Beridze treats her instruments and compositions with care, but her music's never precious, it's rigorous, poetic, and endearingly reflective. On standouts like ‘X It’ she mines a rich vein of celluloid romance - like a time-washed remembrance of the theme from Love Story.