Fovea Hex: Bloom
Die Stadt

Not only does its ornate embossed presentation impress but so too does the personnel Irish chanteuse Clodagh Simonds has assembled for Bloom, the first of three EP releases in the 'Neither Speak Nor Remain Silent' series: Brian Eno sings and plays fretless bass on one song, his brother Roger performs harmonium on another, plus soundtrack composer Carter Burwell (Miller's Crossing) and The Hafler Trio's Andrew McKenzie play 'disappeared piano' and '12 strings & organic matter' respectively. The material exudes a strong ambient character with instrumentation used more to produce evocative texture than fashion melody. Likewise, lyrics are more impressionistic and allusive than direct in their meanings.

The songs—one long setting framed by shorter pieces— are ponderous in tone—meditative dirges more than anything. In the opener, Simonds' entranced singing passionately pleads over a droning base of angelic voices in “Don't These Windows Open?” A vocal trio haunts the spectral lament “We Sleep You Bloom” with Cora Venus Lunny's violas adding ethereal atmosphere. Harmoniums in the folk dirge “That River,” on the other hand, deepen the song's droning quality, especially when paired with Simonds' near-monotone delivery.

Certainly Bloom's a compelling listen and bodes well for the others in the series. Do note, however, that only the most psychic listener would be able to identify any of those famous guests in the absence of provided detail (Brian Eno's vocals and bass are woven inconspicuously into the first song's arrangement, for example), and that Simonds' voice is serviceable though not as enchanting as ideally it would be, given the nature of the material. Even so, a distinctive EP despite such qualifiers.

February 2006