Aorta Songs Part 1 is the first fruit of the Lights On Moscow collaboration between Hazel Wilde of Lanterns On The Lake and Justin Lockey of Editors. Dark, claustrophobic and haunting in the most part, it feels like a soundtrack from an imaginary black and white silent film.
The lead track Lord Let Me Know sets the tone right from the start as the song’s shimmering intro builds slowly as Hazel pleads “give me something I can believe in” as the drums kick in and dictate the beat of the song and she seeks salvation in “take me out of the dark into the night” and “if there’s a God in the sky then give me a sign” before asking the question of the title “is there a number to call?” almost pleading for an answer as the song’s atmospherics create a mysterious swirling feeling to the whole thing.
I Must Come Clean is more revelatory, Hazel’s words talking to a wronged lover, laying bare secrets that haunt her without telling what they are. It starts with Hazel being followed by a lover in the first verse and then her chasing him down in the second in a turnaround of the power base. Musically it’s sparse and tense, adding to the sense of foreboding menace and hurt that lies beneath the surface.
The first minute and a quarter of Like Lovers Often Will is hardly there, a soft, almost inaudible undercurrent pierced by a couple of notes of piano that stop no sooner than they’ve started and then come back. It builds to drums kicking in and Hazel’s vocals drifting in and out as she mulls over the pieces of a relationship.
At moments across the four songs there’s a tension that holds together the sparse arrangements that’s so taut that it feels like the song is so fragile it might break at any point. Hazel’s vocals are often deliberately placed towards to the back of the mix to accentuate that effect. It’s most pronounced on the final track Spirits Around My Bed, a rippling piano breaking the cloying atmospherics as Hazel half whispers half sings about spirits enveloping her in the nights, but it runs throughout.
This is a really intriguing set of songs. Freed from the constraints of their bands Hazel and Justin are free to create something that you wouldn’t expect from either of their bands. Whilst Hazel’s voice leads to obvious comparisons to Lanterns On The Lake the intent here is different, delving deeper, refusing to add anything that might dissipate the tension for dramatic effect. In doing so Aorta Songs Part 1 isn’t an easy listen but if you’re a fan of music that unsettles you, makes you feel a little uncomfortable but which you can’t switch off as it’s entranced you, then this will hook you in and not let go.
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Our interview with them can be found here.