Wisdom From the Spam Filter
Laura Donnelly Sings Kate Bush

Laki Mera: Turn All Memory Into White Noise

I've been meaning to write about this album for well over a year now. When I first got the CD (thanks, Rob), I left it in the car player for a while, which meant that I heard it several times, but not very attentively. What with the distractions of driving and the interference of various noises, I always miss something when listening in the car--sometimes a lot, as my ten-year-old Honda Civic is not especially quiet. Now, having finally gotten around to writing about it, I thought I ought to give it a listen at home, partly to refresh my memory and partly to see what I'd missed. 

I'm glad I did, because I had indeed missed a lot. The album is even better than I remembered musically, and the quality of the recording is superb. There's a lot of electronically-produced sound on it, and modern recording equipment and techniques seem to be able to make that stuff seem enormously present. 

Partway through the first track, I jotted down an initial three-word impression: noisy melodic trip-hop. The first word, however, proved not very applicable to most of the album. The third...well, trip-hop, like all the subgenre terms in pop music, is pretty elastic, but this fits my idea, more or less, though it stretches the term pretty far. (Actually it seems to me that the implied connection with hip-hop is rather thin, but I'm pretty ignorant of that genre--you can read the Wikipedia article if you're interested in the background). It's not as dark as a lot of trip-hop. So I'll say bright melodic trip-hop.

The heart of the music is Laura Donnelly's warm, clear, even voice. I guess what I'm calling "even" is a matter of style more than equipment, but at any rate her singing has relatively little variation in intensity and volume, and that's not a criticism: it's very appealing, something of a warm-blanket effect. 

As with trip-hop in general, there's a mysterious atmosphere, which is enhanced by the lyrics, also by Donnelly. They're vague, prose-y (no rhyme or regular meter), but suggestive and affecting. The first track, "Come Alone", begins with this:

Come alone
Don't bring anyone inside who won't believe
The air pervades all things
Since we moved all of our things
I get confused
About which room I'm going into

That sort of bouncing back and forth between the dreamy and the down-to-earth is pretty characteristic of the songs. 

YouTube has made it seem like too much work to try to describe music in words. Here's the lovely "Keep Me Safe," the album's closing track. Several others have equally fine string arrangements--and they're real strings, not synths, which I casually assumed when I half-heard them in the car.

I also have the band's first release, Clutter, which is as good as this one. I have not heard their second, The Proximity Effect, but I soon will, as I'm going to buy it from their Bandcamp store when I've finished this post. Turn All Memory is their third and apparently final: it was released in 2013 and as far as I can tell there has been nothing else. (The title, by the way, comes from a Margaret Atwood novel which I have not read.) Laura Donnelly has a solo album, Let Your Listening Be Wide, which I also plan to sample, at least. 

P.S. Here's a better three-word description, from the band themselves: organic, emotional, electronic. From this interview.


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That's a lovely song, and by all rights I should like these guys, as their style is one I'm generally attracted to, but for some reason they just don't grab me. And I can't really put my finger on why. Weird.

That's odd, I thought you had recommended them. I wonder if the reason you don't care for them is what I'm clumsily calling the "bright" quality. It might also be described as a more pop sound than some of the trip-hop bands.

Could be. For the most part I do tend to be less attracted to pop and rock stuff that's "bright" or "breezy."

A few years back my teenage nephew recommended a dream pop band called Hibou. I liked a couple tracks on the first album, but on the whole I found it too "happy." When a new album came out in 2019 it was somewhat darker/noisier and I liked it much better.

Sometime in the next week or two I’m going to write about an album that out-darks just about anything I’ve ever heard. Not in a cheap shocking way like some metal but with brilliance. I’ll let it be a surprise. I’m trying to work up the nerve to listen to it again.


I've picked up a lot of good stuff recently and have subsequently fallen behind on listening. Hoping to remedy that over the next week or so.

I’ve been hopelessly behind for at least 20 years. I’ll never catch up, because I keep going off in unplanned directions.

That's the way I am, or at least used to be, with books. My "to read" stack is at least 20 years behind, and I've pretty much stopped buying books except for ones that I plan to read immediately and will most likely keep. Otherwise I've been slowly culling the herd. A friend put me onto a used bookstore in a college town not too far away that gives fair prices on used books. I've been taking a box to them about once a month for the past several months.

I'm still that way with books. Not so much about buying new ones as thrashing around (attention-wise) among the ones I have. I haven't advanced to culling yet, except for redundancies. A few months ago I acquired a copy of a Victorian poetry anthology I already have. The latter was a college textbook which was really marked up, and the new one is clean, so I thought hey, now I can get rid of that old one. But the new one is also a later edition and has some significant additions and deletions. So I've kept both. Sigh.

I know the feeling.

I've reduced my fiction holdings to a manageable number and am now working on the nonfiction, of which there are considerably more.

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