The alias of one Tamara Schlesinger (Hen Hoose being another activity of the Glasgow-based singer-songwriter) this 10-track release has the feeling more of a project than an artist but maybe not. The release is entirely self-written, played and produced – it does really feel like a window into the artist’s mind, often almost literally! The instrumentation is electronic mainly, eccentrically arranged and frequently off-kilter, like faulty machinery. The vocals are bright, slightly exaggerated at times and the overall effect is something like Fever Ray meets the weirder edges of a yet-unsigned Lost Map electronica collective.
The tunes are great- after the previously reviewed opener ‘Matriach’, BM is especially struck by the fourth track ‘Detachment’ with its chanted mantra-like chorus, while the following track ‘Slipping Away’ is slightly darker, with dramatic synth stabs. Lyrics are bizarre, nightmarish extracts from what at times sounds like a horror film but could as well be mundane extracts of daily life – “Don’t pull yourself down, don’t pull the bridge down…”
‘Tramlines’ is a bit more optimistic (thank God!) – while ‘You Own Us’ is woozy and skewed, a possible ode to God, or Jeff Bezos…either way, it highlights Malka’s powerful vocal range and expressiveness, another key feature of this warmly weird record.
The album finishes with further variations, from the dramatics of ‘Out of Body’ (“visions…”), the spectral but pastoral otherness of ‘War Coffee’ and finishes with the almost whimsical ‘Start It All Again’. A release well worth exploring, quite the contender for one of the records of the year to date.