Sarah Pagé
Dose Curves [LP/DL; Backward Music]

As disembodied words written on a flashing digital screen, it’s important to remain vigilantly impartial. At least until year-end lists come around. So, allow me to save you the trouble of knowing my stance and being surprised: Dose Curves is my album of the year.

Yes, [insert excuse/disclaimer about the greatness of other albums here].

Alas, [insert dismissal of that statement].

Pagé has transformed the harp into just another stringed instrument, and this is of the highest praise. Playing it like a guitar, dobro, cello, fiddle, or sitar, she has brought the oversized and unappreciated device down a few pegs. Pagé is not the first to do so, but her approach is unique. With weaponized tools of manipulation of her own creation (ex: her own constructed contact mics) to capture the harp’s beauty, Pagé is treating an instrument that was placed on a higher pedestal as if it’s just as utilitarian as its bastard cousins (think Kelly Moran and her approach to piano vivisection).

Yet this approach does not render the harp’s beauty to that of cheap guitars and rusting pedal steels. Even by clipping the harp’s ornamental wings, Pagé delivers angelic passages of exquisitely crafted music that blend classic form with experimental pretense, still soaring over all of us with a watchful, loving gaze.

So, [insert comment on personal attachment and feelings that you are bringing into this conversation]?

As Dose Curves finished yet another rotation on my turntable as I washed dishes after another evening of cooking and feeding my family, my youngest daughter came into the room freshly showered, hair still dripping on the nape of her pajama top. She sat in front of one of the stereo’s speakers and just listened. Usually, all my children care about is the 90’s alternative music I grew up on, but my youngest was soon joined by her older sister in this rare stillness for kinder aged 7 and 3. The only stray comments from them as I walked out of the kitchen and into the living room was “this is beautiful,” and “what instrument is she playing”? They noticed that somehow it was reminiscent of that murky pop of my youth (that is becoming part of their own) and yet they recognized it as something completely new and different. They were transfixed as Pagé ran down solos as if she were Eddie Van Halen as an agitated distortion grew around her — and yet, it was still a classical sound that is undeniably tethered to emotions and statuses few are privileged to enjoy. Pagé has kicked those barriers down by her roughneck vision of her chosen instrument.

But, [insert someone’s veiled sexist/apologist/revisionist outrage here]!

When I hear people say “rock and roll is dead”, when I find myself wanting to utter those words…this is the album I will return to in an effort to remind myself it’s just not the case. Furthermore, it will serve as a permanent record that harps are indeed as cool, dirty, and grungy as any old Fender Jag.

Listen to the last minute of “Pleiades” and think again about making another snide comment that I’m imagining some of you making. In the end, the music speaks plenty well for itself.

Cerberus

Cerberus seeks to document the spate of home recorders and backyard labels pressing limited-run LPs, 7-inches, cassettes, and objet d’art with unique packaging and unknown sound. We love everything about the overlooked or unappreciated. If you feel you fit such a category, email us here.

Most Read