Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Tara Jane O'Neil – Where Shine New Lights

"Where Shine New Lights"

Release date: 26 January 2014
7.5/10
Tara Jane O'Neil – Where Shine New Lights
23 January 2014, 15:30 Written by Ro Cemm
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Tara Jane O’Neil begins Where Shine New Lights, her seventh solo album and the first for Kranky Records with ‘Welcome’, a short passage of multi-tracked sirenic wordless coos that beckon the listener in to wander in a dreamlike state through O’Neil’s ever shifting and increasingly immersive sound world.

The journey continues as “Welcome” shifts and transforms into a drone which in turn becomes “Wordless in Woods”, a track that hangs on a hypnotic minimal guitar phrase, repeated mantra like as O’Neil’s vocal weaves around it as amplifiers buzz and swell below the surface. The sun-dappled and surfy “This Morning Glory” follows, with delicate, warm harmonies playing over a simple tremolo guitar and sparse, brushed percussion. The sweetness of this track is thrown into relief by the creaking, atmospheric “Over. Round, In a Room, Found”. While the wordless vocals remain, here O’Neil moves from a carefully structured song format into a more improvised arrangement, the vocals transforming around low, sombre drums that shift rhythms, paces and tones as other sounds and drones begin to creep in in layers, hovering and reverberating.

As the album develops, O’Neil continues to shift between structured and improvised song forms in a fluid manner. Allowing each instrument, voice, tone or drone an equal standing, she builds immersive textures and places an equal importance in the power of silence and quiet. “The Lull the Glowing” marks a halfway point in the record, standing alone between the two sets of interconnected tracks that surround it. A slow, deliberate lullaby there is a hazy warmth to the vocals as they phase in and out of the foreground, adding to the sense of detachment. The Low-esque of “Elemental Finding” follows, its closing drone acts as a starting point for ‘All Now Vibe’, a slowly building collage of phased strings, low bass, and vibraphone that resolve and dissolve before giving way to the equally meditative “The Signal, Wind”. One of the highlights of the second half of the record is the mesmeric “Bellow Below as Above”, a pump organ drone that builds and shifts slowly and euphorically while shimmering strings and distant tones fill the sonic space, which in turn serves to further emphasise the role of silence in the album closing “New Lights For A Sky”.

While the individual tracks on Where Shine New Lights stand up in their own right, O’Neil has clearly taken great care in weaving them together, with each providing a context or starting point for the next, shifting and morphing along the way. Each tone, note, or scrape here seems deliberate and purposeful without ever feeling overly controlled. In less capable hands the melancholy feel of the tracks could easily become overwhelming or cold, but O’Neil and her collaborators (including Ida Pearle on violin and long-term collaborators Daniel Littleton and Elizabeth Mitchell of Ida amongst others) imbue a sense of warmth to the proceedings with the subtlety of their playing and the sweetness of their harmonies.

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