Thursday 16 May 2013


Simplicity is sometimes best. It is best when it works well. And do you know where it works well exactly? In some songs, yes - but also and particularly in this specific song called 'Julian' by the as-yet-unsigned Alma Elste.

It's a really beautiful song by a girl from Paris in her early twenties - but it doesn't seem to matter about age because her sound is so refined and mature that age becomes a really kind of pointless thing. In fact, I'm sorry for even mentioning it. But in all seriousness, there is a tragic frankness in her voice, lyrics and even the music itself that lends a unique sadness to the ambient chill of the song. That said, the lyrics are quite interesting in their simplistic yet cryptic matter-of-factness:

the house
is empty
the chess game
is underneath the bed
i fell
you ordered me to make mistakes

Put these kinds of words to any kind of music and it will create instant pathos, almost guaranteed. The meaning of the lyrics on a specific level may be lost on us, but the words certainly evoke a kind of lonely helplessness that's for sure. So when the music is just as heartfelt as the lyrics, it's quite a combination indeed. Listen for yourself.

It begins rather unexpectedly with a huge long low rumbling sub-bass note that puts you on edge before you even hear the haunting song itself. And then the guitar. That guitar is really something, I think. The chords in the 'chorus' parts (as there is no real chorus) are surprising, and jump out at you, jarring and off-key and perfectly fitting therefore with the "I fell..." lyric, turned to wordless "oooo"s at the end, illustrating with music whatever unsavoury or unpleasant situation inspired this song. One can make guesses from the title, 'Julian', I suppose.

Yet it's not actually that sad of a song. Ironically, I do think that is the reason why it sounds so heartbreaking - it's just honest, that's all: whatever's being felt, or whatever was felt, was made into a song. Simple as that. But for more music from Alma, you can wait till September for a new EP, or you can check her bandcamp, where you can find her interesting blend of instrumental, incidental and plaintive chill in the form of her earlier Savour Kindness EP that she put out last July. Definitely looking forward to hearing more though.

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