LINE THE CLOUDS
At the center of the new experimental record from Boston-to-Brooklyn transplant Ashley Paul, a gentle arrangement of plucky guitar and low, breathy reeds hangs like beads around Paul’s ghostly vocals. “You and I can make the sky ours alone,” she sings in a floating falsetto on the title track of “Line the Clouds.” The song is far from pop — Paul works in deliberate dissonances and the tempos sometimes feel nonexistent, giving the music the feeling of an ambient bedroom field recording. But structure bridges a few gaps — it’s like the chord-splattering of Deerhoof and the heavy resonance of a Breeders ballad as welded by a Harry Partch-like chamber ensemble. There is a movement to the song that builds and resolves around a couple beautiful recurring melodic figures. That movement drifts as the lyrics do — past the clouds, up into the stars, and on into dreams.
Paul has been a fixture in the Boston experimental scene for years, graduating from NEC with a master’s degree in 2007 and adventurously performing in countless contexts here since then (in a duo with Eli Keszler, as part of Downtown New York fixture Anthony Coleman’s Damaged Quartet, and more). “Line the Clouds” takes the elements she’s honed in these trenches and lays them all out in a startlingly composed manner, with sparkling bells, barely audible bowed strings, and dirge-like flutes passing by like shifting nighttime landscapes outside a quiet train’s window. (Out March 18)
ESSENTIAL “Falling”Matt Parish can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.