Charysse is an enigmatic chanteuse whose album gave rise to a series of extraordinary videos

Curiously, journalists summoned to interview Charysse at her family home in Acton discovered a somewhat elfin woman, keen on the poetry of the Romantic era

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Charysse burst on to the music scene two years ago when her album Sighs and Whispers, originally recorded in her bedroom but picked up by a major label after selections from it were played on BBC 6 Music, shipped 375,000 units via CD and download. There were, most critics agreed, several striking aspects to this unheralded debut. Chief among them was the cover, showing an almost wraith-like figure with coils of luminous white hair posed, at dead of night and on a snowy peak, axe in hand, above what appeared to be the recumbent, sheet-draped body of a man.

Another, naturally, was the music itself. The tracks, with titles such as "Will I Die or Shall You?" and "Blood on the Ice-Floes", featured their composer keening urgently over thrummed piano accompaniment about the activities of the "Stranger". According to the title track, having "ripped apart 1,000 lovers", the Stranger had exploded "like a hand-grenade" in the singer's heart, while committing some transgression for which "only a knife in the silence" could atone. There was talk, too, of the exotic locales in which the Stranger ("a jungle man", a "mountain cat", at one point "my desert juju") had previously operated.

It was clear that – as the album gave rise to a series of extraordinary promotional videos, in which a woman looking rather like Narnia's White Queen drove around Windsor Great Park in a chariot, and prowled darkened corridors with a panther on a leash – all this could not be ignored. Curiously, journalists summoned to interview Charysse at her family home in Acton discovered a somewhat elfin woman in her early twenties, keen on the poetry of the Romantic era and about to marry her long-term boyfriend Gavin, an assistant manager at the local branch of Currys.

Since this unveiling, Charysse has played several festivals, been interviewed by Hello! with Gavin in their nice new house in Sunbury-on-Thames, and released a second album, whose change of direction has left critics nonplussed. Half the tracks on Erotic Inferno, you see, are unsuitable for radio play, and the video for "Thrustin' Thru the Night" had to be withdrawn from YouTube after parents complained. Meanwhile, Gavin continues at Currys, "Cravings", the most recent single, is up for a Grammy, and still waters run deep.

Comments