Tickley Feather Tickley Feather

[Paw Tracks; 2008]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: murky lo-fi bedroom tech
Others: Ariel Pink, Suicide, Kelis

The self-titled debut from Annie Sachs (a.k.a. Tickley Feather), a collection of home recordings spanning the last four years, is often compared to Ariel Pink, who also famously spins lo-fi murk for Animal Collective's Paw Tracks. Although they both tread in a washed-out, third-generation cassette haze, their similarities stop after the aesthetic surface. Subsequent listens to Tickley Feather make clear that her songwriting and arrangements are influenced by something altogether different than Ariel Pink.

Laden in Casiotone sounds and overwhelmingly cloudy production, Sachs sounds so utterly fragile that something as precise as a drum machine seems as though it could blow away with the slightest breeze, making her moniker surprisingly poignant. Her simple melodies and staggered (rather than layered) use of instrumentation is reminiscent of the Young Marble Giants school of songwriting; however, Sachs is less about verses, choruses, and proto new wave/twee as she is about woozy waltzes and indecipherable prose.

Rather than aiming for anything lyrically didactic, Sachs spends most of her time sculpting her voice into an amorphous texture with lovely naïve imperfection that could never be achieved in a studio. Layers of indecipherable lyrics float like big clouds over her elevator lounge, synth rhythm section. Coming off as half-impassioned and half-filled with vacancy, Sachs crafts the repetition of her journal entry sentiment into a blurry instrument entirely its own, like an amateur tape experiment gone horribly right.

Tickley Feather works so well within this lo-fi palette that it’s damn near impossible to imagine her music with full-blown studio production. We don’t have to spend our days wondering what the fidelity of Sachs’ future may hold, but unlike Ariel Pink, Tickley Feather doesn’t have the same imaginative unpredictability that would allow her to transcend the lo-fi surroundings. More process apparent and less like a pilfering manic songwriter, her next door neighbor-like charm makes up for her often timid restraint. I’d like to assume she’d be doing this in the privacy of her home regardless of who's listening, and we’re just getting a peek into the comfy world in which she lives.

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