Brighton UK quartet Collectress is pleasantly barking. Not the London borough, you understand: just barking mad, in an endearing way. Describing their two-decades-old history as one of Chamber Krautpop doesn’t do it justice: instead, try SubRosa without the weight but with mischief lurking around every corner. Latest album Different Geographies (Peeler Records) is so named as a tribute to the band’s ability to maintain creativity over new, split locations and life priorities – a testament to love and loyalty rarely able or evident in the music world today.
‘Words (Saturn)’ opens the album with delicious Fender Rhodes tones dancing like pixies around eerie synth effects. Caroline Weeks‘ melancholy, occasionally sinister flute dips and soars through the midriff before slightly discordant strings unsettle the soul. This is followed by the plucked cello and Hammond parps of ‘Mauswerk’, a quaint scene-setter reminiscent of an accompaniment to a typically eccentric, theatrical Simon Warner tune. Harbour, meanwhile, realises the wistful side of the band: keys and strings chiming against warm, warping atmospheres; Quinta‘s capricious violin accompanying soft harmonies which move from sadness to joy in a heartbeat.
Where there is quirkiness lies also pure emotion. ‘In the streets, in the fields’ possesses mellifluous, poignant piano flurries and strings, while the interchange ‘twixt the pluck and the play is genius: evoking days of tragedy; rebuild; and the getting on with life after death, which leads nicely into ‘Cardboard’, the mournful lows and Tori Amos-esque highs of which are anything but. The hand-clapping segue into ‘Landing’ is joyous and when joined by the Rhodes and Belle Epoque-flavoured violin, the track imbues an irresistible sense of joie de vivre where recently there was sadness. The interlude ‘Archive’ finishes the middle wonderfully: a scarring, scratching acrimony affecting a haunting beauty that makes us wonder what horrors lurk within…
‘She must shut her eyes’ returns to that brief shamanic instruction: the words delivered in staggered format, the Rhodes cascading over the top like a sprinkle of chocolate over the hissing, fizzing mocha. ‘Words (Mars)’ is a curious entity that bleeps and samples its way through extra-terrestrial activity, but displays enough iciness and delicacy to engage, and prepare the recipient for the closing, heart-ripping ‘Roaming Bones’: a colossal leaning toward Bat For Lashes, yet creating its own vibe somewhere between profound Americana and the greatest moments of Classical Russian sorrow. God, does all this leave you with itches in your digits. Different Geographies is a lovely, human experience that really does mean something.
7 / 10