AMN Reviews: Elizabeth Joan Kelly – Farewell, Doomed Planet! (2019; Bandcamp)

Farewell, Doomed Planet! is a set of pieces from electronic / ambient composer Elizabeth Joan Kelly. She provides all music and lyrics, as well as a tongue-in-cheek description of the album as “about the apocalypse. And Chernobyl wolves. Pollution. And space travel. Existential dread. And whales.”

Kelly uses MIDI equipment along with found sounds to produce deftly-layered synth rhythms and drones. Wending its way throughout is a sense of general weirdness with more than a few unexpected detours. Kelly uses her processed voice as an instrument whether singing or chanting, with undulating waves and sequenced patterns from the aforementioned synths.

Farewell, Doomed Planet! is rarely at rest. Just when you think it might be veering off into synth-pop or aimless noises, Kelly pulls back into a place in between those ends of the spectrum. Indeed, her ability to blend disparate and antagonistic styles reflects a high degree of craftsmanship in both conception and execution. As examples, Departure is a light, dreamy song incorporating harsh electroacoustic breaks, while the following track, Exclusion Zone Earth (Or, All Hail Chernobyl Wolves), would fit into a sci-fi / horror soundtrack.

This may result in parts of the album sounding too conventional for some and too abstract for others. But when approached with an open mind, Farewell, Doomed Planet! is an enjoyably unusual and melancholy effort. Kelly takes her music seriously – but not herself. As a consequence, this release exhibits an irresistible charm that adds its innovative nature.

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