17 October 2010

Empress – 1996-1999 (2002, 555)

1996-1999” was released, after their self-titled album on Geographic, as a way to collect compilation songs, unreleased tracks  and alternate versions, with the symbolic goal to put a final point to the first version of the band, before they became a duo and started to explore more digital sounds.

During these years Empress was, more or less, a four-people band - Chris Coyle, Matty Green, Nicola Hodgkinson  and Stewart Anderson - , represented by this collection of songs, coherent by the style used, but lacking of a continuity from begin to end. Four members but it's almost always completely minimal, centered around the fragile sensitivity of Nicola Hodgkinson vocals. 

Of course, the slowcore, lo-fi, Hood, Low references are often obvious, but intrinsically, Empress is different and the band owns an unique identity which makes them special, unique, apart.
This record is a collection of small treasures, more than a full treasure. It becomes quite good when you decide to focus on the details. It's minimal, so musically it may sounds at times schematic, but each sound has got an emotional meaning, helps to build a precious atmosphere. 

Empress never planned to write a good pop song here, they just translate what they feel, as strong and as close to themselves as they can, sincere but restrained.

They let you go behind the machinery, confront you with simple things, without artifices, yet in the end, utterly moving beyond minor appearances.

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