Boomkat Product Review:
Alabaster DePlume collaborator Ruth Goller engineers a startlingly unique sound on her second album, layering diaphanous soprano vocals over prismatic, instrumental backdrops and avant ideas into pop moulds. RIYL Julia Holter, Jenny Hval, Julianna Barwick.
Italian-born, London-based bassist and vocalist Goller has built up an impressive resumé already. Not only has she collaborated with artists like Shabaka Hutchings, Sam Amidon and Damon Albarn, but she's developed her skills improvising with Alabaster DePlume, something that was evident on her 2021 debut Skylla. 'SKULLUMINA' refines her sound even further; on the surface it's broadly pop, led by her disarming vocals that she stacks into ghostly harmonies, but scratch a little deeper and there's more going on than immediately meets the ear. Goller composes with an avant-garde sensibility that pushes her tracks into curious territory, picking vaporous melodies from her bass's harmonics and adding just a proggy flutter of drums for momentum. She concentrates the songs around her voice, but uses it in unexpected ways, pulling from classical minimalism (we're hearing Steve Reich and Philip Glass) but landing on a fertile intersection.
She gets an assist from Sons of Kemet/The Smile drummer Tom Skinner on opener 'Below my skin', echoing her bass notes with fractal vocals that don't follow the simple path. Skinner's restrained percussive flurries are the ideal foil, and the track lodges itself between otherworldly folk and deep, exploratory prog. On 'All the light I have...', Goller's song form vanishes even further - her harmonies and melodies are precise, but airy and alien, taking on the form of a choir and a heartfelt hum intermittently. She sounds more like Björk on 'From breaks to shreds...', but there's a level of subtlety that put Goller firmly in her own distinct lane.