[My Gang] Bat For Lashes - The Big Sleep : Reco of the Week 03 Mar 09


Mar 3 2009, 23:52

Track: The Big Sleep (Listen here at prefixmag)
Artist: Bat for Lashes, featuring Scott Walker
Album: Two Suns (6 April 09)
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Spotlights coming down from heaven

No video this week. There is one in YouTube, a tribute to a film, but really, I think you should close your eyes and just listen. Or gaze at the pic above.

The Big Sleep is the closing track on Bat for Lashes' new album and it features Scott Walker. When you listen, it sounds like a short piece, I was surprised to see it's almost 3 mins long. You'll see what I mean when you listen. It seems to distort time. The only instrument you notice is a solitary, old piano, like the kind that accompanied movies back in the days before they had sound. Behind that are strings, drone sounds and distortion, but you don't hear them on first listen. Natasha Khan's beautiful, high-pitched voice holds you while Scott Walker's deep, dark voice creeps around the edges. She's the light and he's the shadow. Conscious and subconscious. The piano stops before the end and you notice the pulsing sound that appears half way through the song, like a heartbeat, which rises to a peak then suddenly cuts out. "It's curtains down time." An abrupt end to a dreamy album.

When I first heard it, it caught me unawares. I played it on Stereogum's site. They had uploaded the track but forgotten to label it. I had no idea what it was! At first, I thought it was Antony Hegarty gone wrong. Then I recognised Scott Walker and thought wow. Once again, I had successfully managed to avoid the hype and all of this came as a delightful surprise.

All the blogs all over the net have all the tracks, in case you're wondering. The whole album is in bits all over the place, a month ahead of its official release date. Any decent blog aggregator will pull them together for you.

The one thing that Natasha Khan didn't have in her debut album she has in spades now - substance. Her first album, Fur and Gold, was interesting, it was clear she has presence, but the material was hollow.

Some very big names come to mind listening to Two Suns: Radiohead, Björk, Kate Bush, Prince, to name a few. Daniel, the current single, sounds Fleetwood Mac to me. At one point, during Two Planets, in the middle of doing something else, I quite forgot who I was listening to and really thought it was Björk. She's very Tori Amos in her vocals on Moon and Moon. If you are one of those insufferable snobs who can't listen to Radiohead, you may as well give up now, because the music is very much in that style and of that calibre. It is excellent. Natasha takes inspiration from our modern greats and marries them with classic themes from 80s electronica. It makes for very interesting listening.

There's a huge sense of the vulnerable, lost soul in this album. Pearl is said to be her alter-ego, the girl in the blonde wig, Natasha's destructive inner self. The Telegraph carried an interview recently where Natasha talks more about this. In 'Daniel', the main line is, "I dream of home". Pearl's Dream is among the best tracks on the album. It reminds me of a hit from the 80s, though I can't for the life of me name it. I don't mean The Big Sky. If anyone knows the song I'm thinking of, please tell me.

Dog Day Press
Envisioning herself as two separate yet ultimately attached beings, we discover her inner character Pearl, the destructive blonde femme fatale that represents one extreme of her personality. Pearl’s troubled obsession with childlike escapism and self-absorption opposes the wild and mystical desert being who represents Natasha’s more spiritual self. Through the songs on the album, Natasha and Pearl take us on a journey as they intertwine and overflow into each other’s realms, struggling to reconcile with each other, love and the forces of the outside world.

Scott Walker joins Natasha for a duet on the final track, ‘The Big Sleep’. It is the last we see of Pearl as the final curtain is called and she hangs up her dress forever. It describes the death of Pearl and symbolically, the death of the world of illusion. It’s a darkly camp and theatrical performance to end the record. Having imagined Walker’s voice on the track from the moment it was composed, Natasha sent it to him almost as a dare to herself. Spectacularly, he returned the favour and added an emotive vocal, perfectly ending this complex story.

'Two Suns' is an intensely beautiful album from another world, but it's not a world we want to know all that well, even though we're all familiar with it. It's a world of sadness, loneliness, performing to order and painted smiles.

Babs My Gang

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Admin - Stats as of today:

Last.fm listeners of this track - 3,934
No. of plays scrobbled in Last.fm - 10,646
Position in Last 7 Days: 22 / 1,227
Position in Last 6 Months: 106 / 19

Stats after 7 days:

Last.fm listeners of this track - 4,547
No. of plays scrobbled in Last.fm - 13,092
Position in Last 7 Days: 23 / 1,203
Position in Last 6 Months: 106 / 19

555 Unique Visitors
627 Page Views

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  • Furretsu

    I agree with this wholeheartedly!

    Mar 5 2009, 16:31
  • Babs_05

    Thanks, Furretsu! :D and thanks for the comment.

    Mar 5 2009, 18:15
  • IanAR

    Yeay! It's just gone streamable (and the rest of [i]Two Suns[/i]) :D Ian

    Apr 1 2009, 9:43
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