Stripped down versions of a complex production queen.
Some musicians pull you in with their production values and audio aesthetic. Bat For Lashes has always been one of those musicians for me. Each album has a vibe, a style and a vision and she commits to it fully. To hear just Natasha and her keyboard for a live album is a stark contrast. but an entirely welcome one. Every song feels completely different.
Across the ten tracks that span most of Bat For Lashes career to date (focusing more on recent releases than older ones), Natasha Atlas sits down with her synth keyboard and trots out very stripped back versions of her music. Each track has the keyboard drenched in reverb to ring out and Atlas’ voice is vulnerably open and exposed. Only on a few occasions do tracks have multiple layers of synths running and the majority of the tracks are arpeggios chords of pianos or electronic rhodes style pianos. It is intimate and smooth if at times a little restrained.
Its a bold statement really as when you take away all the production tricks, the tracks chords and riffs are exposed for being simpler. That means you have to rely on great performances and charged emotion to raise the bar. Thankfully, Bat For Lashes brings the bacon. Her falsetto is stunning to unleash and blossoms magical moments such as the outro of ‘Deep Sea Diver’. Elsewhere ‘What’s A Girl To Do’ is a dramatic monotone crawl – sans the drums but just as fun. Other tracks we know for the boogie and synths such as ‘All Your Gold’ and 80’s style ‘Kids In The Dark’ ring out as chamber pop beauties with just keyboard and voice. Whilst familiarity of performance structure does seep in slightly when listening to it as a full piece of work, the textures of the synths change between songs keeping the ears entertained too.
A lovely addition for fans to rediscover Bat For Lashes songs in a chamber synth setting, Livestream At Home is a good release. I don’t recommend new fans to start here, you’ll appreciate it much more having come from the production heavy albums first. Whilst I love Bat For Lashes for bringing that to her albums, she has found beauty in simplicity here too.
Recommended track: Deep Sea Diver
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