Kate Bush doing Bossa Nova demos on an 80’s Casio keyboard.
When a musician records an album that has a very specific sound or instrument set, that can be both a blessing and a curse. It focuses the mind on using only a selection of tools available and you have to be inventive to keep things fresh and interesting.
Linaire released her self titled album last week and it sounds like it is entirely created using an old keyboard and drum machine as its primary music set. The drums remind me of my first keyboard when you’d play a tinny bossa nova beat. The main synth used is a harsh buzzing old school keyboard sound that too evokes bossa nova vibes too. It is intentionally low-fi and feels like a tribute to demo and the early formative years of synths.
These keyboard sounds largely come from an Omnichord. It is a wonderful instrument that allows you to press button keys to play organ like tones and then have a strum strip to either pluck notes or glissando them on the side. They sound like an old synth being played through a telephone wire – its very vintage. In the modern day of synths, these Omnichords sound like old relics but they do have a certain vintage charm. By design they can sound quite clunky if the songs are structured to make the instrument shine.
This could sound quite crude if placed in the wrong hands but Linaire has an expressive and flamboyant voice that is able to carry a limited sound palette and broaden it out further. This can involve trippy overdubs of herself like the space-folk ‘Go In the Morning’ and closing track ‘Long Long Line’. She also uses her voice as a choir sample in ‘No Part of Me Ever Dies’. It creates an eerie but effective gospel pop track because its not quite real or fake. Elsewhere a more dreamy chilled vibe works wonders with ‘Worked That Way’ which gently shoop shoops its way into your mind.
One of the stranger tracks on the album is ‘I’ll Buy You Lunch’ which consists off a repetitive heartbeat drum and Linaire offering to buy you lunch. In a sister tone tonally, ‘Oh Who’ chops up the lyric ‘There has never been a clearer path to you. To sideways baseball cap and plastic jewels’. It does it so that Linaire herself becomes an orchestral stab but with voice instead. It sounds alien, hypnotic and reminds me of 70’s psychedelic folk music.
All of this combined means that Linaire’s debut album is a tricky album to know who to recommend to. There is a certain Kate Bush quality to it with the amount of imagination involved but its not really the same genre. There is a little Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith or Julia Holter to it too but it is not really in that genre either. If anything, structurally this album would appeal to psyche-folk lovers who enjoy old school synths. If any of that sounds like it may appeal to you, you should give Linaire a whirl.
Recommended track: Go In The Morning
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