Amialluma/ Chloë March and Todd Tobias
A collaboration between musicians Todd Tobias and Chloë March, Amialluma is an album’s worth of atmospheric ambient music that desultorily drifts between a whimsical and eerie tone. All ten compositions have a distinct hauntological ambiance. The soundscapes have the feel of the soundtrack to a forgotten children’s movie. Music box melodies, echoed bell-like tones and 60s Sci-Fi sounds are woven together, mostly in a halcyon mood that gets disturbed by the occasional dark chord progression. March sings, purrs, trills, murmurs and chants words in an invented language that manages to be both soothing and disturbing, like a feral child raised by nature. The resulting suite (which is how it is supposed to be listened to) reminds of me of the work of the English band Pram, (who share a similar tonal palette crossed) with the Cocteau Twins at their most tranquil.
All days are nights to see till I see thee,
And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me.
—“Sonnet 43,” Shakespeare
Ah, the Concept Album, that hoary idea that birthed such dubious masterpieces as Evita and “Mr. Roboto.” Chloe March’s third album loosely fits in this category. But you won’t find an overarching narrative theme. Instead, you’ll find a suite of songs that use image-patterns of night, winter, light, dark with a sub-theme of Orpheus and Eurydiche running through three compositions. And I use the term ‘composition’ deliberately, for these amalgamations of synthesized programs, with delicate colorings of piano, saxophone, zither and guitar are closer to the work of Erik Satie than they are to traditional pop music. March’s work most recalls David Sylvian’s classic album, Secrets of the Beehive, with its slow burning atmospherics that borrow from folk, classical, jazz and electronic ambient music. Her smoky velvet alto also shares Sylvian’s ruminative phrasing. The use of zithers (in this case, autoharp and psaltery) at times recalls the hermetic, textural compositions of acoustic-ambient artist Colleen. Nights Bright Days is like musical incense. Recommended for fans of Sylvian, Virginia Astley, and Goldfrapp (in the vein of Felt Mountain or Tales of Us).