Elsiane Hybrid

Elsiane Hybrid

2.5 out of 5 2.5 out of 5 2.5 out of 5 2.5 out of 5 2.5 out of 5 2.5

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There’s a vintage clip of Björk on YouTube in which she examines the inside of her television set, likening the circuit board to a miniature city and a bundle of wires that extends upward to an elevator shaft. The clip captures the artist’s childlike wonder and her singular perspective on the seemingly mundane, and it also serves as proof that she’s every bit as inimitable and captivating as the music she makes. Elsieanne Caplette, one half of Montreal’s Elsiane, has a voice only Björk’s mom could love, existing as it does someplace between Kristen Wiig’s impersonation of Iceland’s most famous export and Lamb’s Lou Rhodes. Occasionally, producer David Kakon wisely uses her breathy soprano as texture, as he does on the song “Ecclesia,” but it’s mostly positioned front-and-center in the sound mix throughout the rest of Elsiane’s debut, which makes its unintelligibility even more frustrating (it also makes the prospect of a coffee date with Caplette seem downright exhausting). The songs are aptly titled (“Vaporous,” “Prosaic”), so the few times that Caplette’s vocals are electronically treated—they’re spliced to stuttering effect on “Mend (To Fix, To Repair)” and distorted on “Morphing”—are both fitting and a welcome change of pace. Hybrid—the trite female-reproductive-inspired artwork of which is like a cross between that of Homogenic and the paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe—is not unpleasant to listen to by any means, and Caplette’s string arrangements are lovely, but unlike Björk, Elsiane plays it too safe and the material doesn’t live up to the uniqueness of Caplette’s voice. The songs blend into one another in the kind of easy-listening fog that has become trip-hop’s unfortunate legacy.

Release Date
July 30, 2008
Label
Nettwerk
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