Album: Agnes Obel, Philharmonics ([PIAS])
Friday 01 October 2010
The strikingly austere tone of the cover photo of Berlin-based Danish composer Agnes Obel is borne out in the contents of Philharmonics, in which limpidly evocative piano instrumentals in the vein of Ludovico Einaudi, some tinted with cello, organ, harp or celesta, blend seamlessly with Obel's delicately dusky harmonies, floating like feathers in songs such as the haunting "Riverside" and "Beast".
The latter is but one of several tracks in which her harp figures and affinity for animals bring to mind Joanna Newsom, though the pervasive sense of half-lit stillness in her music and delivery more strongly recalls Ane Brun or José González. Alongside the compelling poignancy of her own songs is a cover of John Cale's "Close Watch", in which Obel's voice occupies a still centre of calm at the heart of a gentle pulse.
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