Boomkat Product Review:
Carmen Villain turns out a career best with her fourth album, a confidently conspicuous co-mingling of dub, fourth world jazz, ambient and kosmische modes. Brilliantly eroded, soft-focus music that's wide-ranging thematically, but completely coherent, landing somewhere between Jon Hassell and Rhythm and Sound.
It's fitting that Norwegian trumpet player and vocalist Arve Henriksen appears on 'Gestures', the album's chilly introductory track. It provides an ideal scene-setter for an album that makes us feel like Carmen Hillestad has finally found her groove after years experimenting in alt-folk, shoegaze, bass music and ambient electronic modes. Her music's always been intriguing, but here sounds completely intentional - a unified thought, able to absorb her wild imagination and wide scope of influence, while retaining key elements that provide a lantern lit path thru her mind's garden.
Henriksen's muted trumpet soars like angelic vocals over Hillestad's gamelan-esque rhythm and restrained electronic sound palette, and when he disappears, the mood remains. The stark and mysterious 'Future Memory' recalls Supersilent with its synth and sub-aquatic rhythm; 'Only Love From Now On' lifts Joanna Scheie Orellana's flute high above throbbing subs and granular pads, curating a mood as cloud-busting as Henriksen's career-best 'Opening Image'. But Hillestad is careful to disrupt the mood periodically, providing lucid dubwise interludes like the brief, ketamine-brained 'Liminal Space' and Rhythm and Sound-influenced 'Subtle Bodies'.
These choices add movement without losing clarity, and provide context to anyone paying close attention. Her obsession with dub sonics has been evident since her earliest material, and Hillestad's progression into cosmic jazz sounds as if it's birthed from the same inclinations. She's found a sweet spot between dub's blunt rhythmic lilt and fourth world ambient music's psilocybin ballet, hitting a note that's eminently re-playable.