Ensemble Disown, Delete

[FatCat; 2006]

Styles: sultry electronica, drone, ambient
Others: Björk (but less poppy and fey), Tim Hecker, Sr. Chinarro

I think this EP is a beautiful embodiment of a keen idea — a collaboration between a fine electronic artist with a mainstream (at least in indie terms) vocalist, followed by a reworking of their collective effort by Tim Hecker, one of the more talented drone and ambient artists around. Perhaps more collaborations of this caliber could expand the creative range of our best singers and the taste of mainstream audiences, while bringing deserved attention to some of the finer producers out there. Whether or not Disown, Delete is the harbinger of fruitful collaborations to come or simply a beautiful aberration, I highly recommend it.

This little EP yields cold, exhilarating collisions, like currents crashing into each other far beneath the ocean's surface — those currents being the production of Ensemble, Chan Marshall's silken voice, and Tim Hecker's ambient appropriation of the work of the other two. Both Ensemble and Hecker formulate bell-rich, blooming tones that pulse and dissipate and resound. Marshall sings beautifully, her voice ripe with sadness.

Marshall's cameo comes in the first track, where her deceptively aged voice works in perfect concert with the colorful guitar arrangement and the oceanic soundscape that Ensemble unleashes around her. Hecker takes a different approach, sublimating Marshall's voice so that her forlorn singing flickers on the periphery of the track, while his tides of sound crest and rebound in effulgent arrhythm. These pieces enclose two songs where Ensemble works solo: "Carmine" shimmers and pivots through dense reverb and clean, spare percussion, while "Their Lines" is the least striking effort here, but still quite lovely — it's a kind of ambient lounge song that boasts evening-wear piano supporting crestfallen singing, while shrieking feedback careens somewhere beneath the lush overlay.

From start to finish, Disown, Delete is a breathtaking work. Here's to more like it.

1. Disown , delete (feat. Cat Power)
2. Carmine
3. Their Lines
4. Disown , Delete (Tim Hecker remix)

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