Scout Niblett - The Calcination of Scout Niblett (Drag City)

on Wednesday, 17 February 2010

A long time favourite of mine, admittedly I jumped onto her bandwagon when her I Conjure Series EP came out and therefore am a fan of her rawer, more stripped down material. As such it took a while to get used to some of the more alt. country stylings of her last album This Fool Can Die Now, strangely enough those songs are now my more preferred on the album and so the stripped down sound of The Calcination was somewhat of a disappointment initially. Repeated listens have however shown that Scout as ever is one special girl. The only disappointment is that many of these songs are not new, saying that the fantastic opening tracking Just Do It , rather than being the new Nike theme tune, previously appeared as a BSide to her Dinosaur Egg single and yet I have no recollection of this wonderful track so its good to have them collected alongside the new tracks.

Reading into her lyrics she seems worryingly disturbed, "and the voices said just do it/ and i think i agree/ cos someones gotta do it/ and it might as well be me"
Both the title track and Cherry Cheek Bomb see Scout at her heaviest, a fine mix of quietude and raucous noise as previously cooked up on tracks like No Ones Wrong and Lullaby for Scout in Ten Years.

Stripped with Pluto is so fuzzed up its only a stones throw from sounding like a collaboration with Emeralds Steve Hauschildt.

Its another wonderful addition to the musical archives that reiterates in my mind just why Scout is fighting with Grouper as the most listened too artist in my Last Fm collection.

Scout Niblett - The Calcination of Scout Niblett mp3 care of
Scout Niblett - Just Do It mp3 care of TSURURADIO

1 Just Do It! 5:28 (apareció originalmente en el ep "Dinosaur Egg", mayo 2007)
2 The Calcination of Scout Niblett 3:31
3 I.B.D. 4:34
4 Bargin 4:54
5 Cherry Cheek Bomb 6:28 (original en la recopilación "Comes With a Smile #8", agosto 2003)
6 Kings 4:38
7 Lucy Lucifer 1:51 (originalmente bonus track digital de "This Fool Can Die Now", octubre 2007)
8 Duke of Anxiety 2:14
9 Ripe With Life 5:32 (original en la recopilación "Eye of the Beholder II", octubre 2002)
10 Strip Me Pluto 3:06 (originalmente bonus track digital de "This Fool Can Die Now" -titulada "Pluto" y en versión instrumental, octubre 2007)
11 Meet and Greet 9:01 (original en el single "Kidnapped By Neptune" -titulada "I am a Prince", mayo 2005)

What The Line of Best Fit Said :
One of the hardest things about The Calcination of Scout Niblett- the singer’s first album in three years- is that it is so difficult to describe. Yet, it is precisely this fact that makes it so good in the first place. Staffordshire-born Scout Niblett, now based in Portland, manages to merge influences so effectively that the sounds become her own, rather than a re-moulding of revered predecessors. The grungy sounds of Sonic Youth and Nirvana are evident, the guitars on Kings sounding particularly Cobain-esque, but the singer-songwriter has so firmly taken hold of the quiet-loud dynamic that her songs remain individual.

Opening track ‘Just Do It!’ sets the tone, quiet Shellac-style electric rumblings underlying Niblett’s clear, folk-learned vocals, intriguing accent and pronunciation. The pure yet untamed feel of her voice brings to mind a more raucous Cat Power or early PJ Harvey. Lyrically, Niblett swings from brutal honesty to apparent nonsense, each as effective and complimentary to its accompaniment as the other, ‘Duke of Anxiety’ coming off as especially witty. The title track carries the lines “Welcome to my self-made sweat box. This is where I take it all off”, highlighting the record’s theme of exorcism.

‘Cherry Cheek Bomb’ shreds itself open with one gargantuan wave of riff, harking back to classic Smashing Pumpkins’ tones (before egos got the better of everyone), then retreating again to more introspective meanderings. The simple, stripped back drums and howls of “hallelujah” are heart wrenching, illustrating the intimate, lonely feel of Niblett’s music at its best. The nursery rhyme melody of ‘Lucy Lucifer’ is similarly haunting. Niblett’s long-term collaboration with Steve Albini makes sense, his penchant for gain-centric instrumental mess music and sporadic drums placed prominently in the mix perfectly complimentary to her style. The overall feel is awfully reminiscent of his and Harvey’s Rid Of Me, each space purposefully utilised to counterpoint fuzz-driven chords and guttural vocal lines

Whilst Niblett’s fifth album is unlikely to result in any kind of mainstream crossover, the typically unstructured nature of the songs perhaps unapproachable to some, Calcination… is incredibly visceral and gripping. There always remains a powerful, otherworldly quality which the listener can’t quite put their finger on. Admittedly keeping carefully close to the minimalist sounds she has been making for a decade, it is a format Niblett has now distilled into an art form, wasting never a searing note or unsettling fill. Tense, raw and skeletal with a soul, Niblett has perfected her ability to nip delicate emptiness in the bud with delightfully harsh soundscapes and acerbic lyrics and, for that, let us be thankful.