11 February 2011

St. Mary's - hear those voices call... (2008, Mon Petit Fantome Recordings)

I enjoyed "Oh Tremble" in 2006 but I lost track of St. Mary's to finally just find my way back to them and notice that Chad Merritt (behind guitar, bass, piano, organ, percussions, samplers and some vocals) now pairs with Tracy Uba (who played bass and sang in Timonium, a slowcore / dreampop band on Pehr label, and who's busy with most of the vocals here).

Even more than before, the 4ad aesthetics connection is more accurate than before, along with some Julee Cruise / Damon & Naomi accentuation, for nine songs of pure ethereal dreampop graceful beauty.

You go through "Hear Those Voices Call..." (mastered by Kramer) like you would be dreaming, not sure that this truly exists and a Google search would bring you almost no results, except pointing to their Facebook page.

They seem to write and record music only for the sake of personal gratification, definitely not for seducing an army of fan and you enter their way just like taking a wrong direction to see you coming across unexpected discoveries. 

The artwork is strange and their profile pictures have an almost ghostlike haunted quality but surprisingly their music is just dreamy, warm, blurry, sensitive and delicate.

It opens with the blurry ambiance of the instrumental "N°4", half asleep one bright and icy winter morning as fog slowly recedes and reveals the day, only perturbed by a sudden crash sound towards the end, which recalls me similar artifacts on the first or second This Mortal Coil LP. "Black bird" has got this strange charm once featured on certain tracks by Angelo Badalamenti and Julee Cruise but buried under more reverb and offered with a warmer intimacy.

Chad Merritt's vocals are so androgynous that if you don't pay much attention you could think all the vocals were sung by Tracy Uba. With the percussion, his performance on "This is where' brings to mind similar vaporous atmospheres once explored by Low or Damon & Naomi.

Soothing and narcoleptic, "All in dreams" is a pure invitation to fall asleep and the second half of this second album goes on like that, with the crystalline melancholic lullaby "When All Your Sisters Cry" or with "When she burns", no so far from the most atmospheric parts of Mazzy Star.

My favorite track is certainly the sonorous but indolent and drowsy, and also the longest ones with its seven minutes, "The Haunting Of Your Bones". The album finally ends like it started with a soft and delicate instrumental.

St. Mary's offers here a dreamy, soft and delicate second album. Nothing groundbreaking but a nice and pleasant refuge to have some rest while reading a book or just watching outside, letting your imagination tell you it's snowing.

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