AMN Reviews

AMN Reviews: Chantal Michelle – Broken to Echoes (2023; Somewhere Between Tapes)

Chantal Michelle returns on Broken to Echoes, a follow-up to last year’s Pulse, Puls​-​ar, Procession. On it, she combines synth motifs, drones, voices, field recordings, electronics, clarinet, and guitar, some of these provided by guest musicians.

The album starts with clear choral vocals, but over the course of eight short tracks, the other sound sources and instruments take on more prominent roles. For example, Celestia is guided by crackling noises and synth until an angular bass clarinet theme is the focus of the second half, first solo and then with the effects. The overall feel is wistful yet strange, an odd melancholy that incorporates and still transcends sadness. Nonetheless, there is a darker turn on Opening, with more ominous rumblings and a subtle yet scratchy guitar drone. If anything, Broken to Echoes gets weirder and more discordant as it progresses.

The album ends with a 22-minute digital-only live recording with Grace Villamil. This is a largely electroacoustic piece with drones, shimmering and gritty electronics, and effects. As it evolves, the drones become more oscillatory and tense. At first blush, the overall sound might seem static but details vary in a non-uniform fashion within the mix. An excellent capstone for another strong album.

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