Pulse Lab "Lab Notes" (State of Bass)
Dasha Larks the singer and songwriter behind Pulse Lab has released an album that straddles a difficult road, between sparse melancholy and some optimistic light.
Opener "Tears of a Fool" veers towards the former with its poignant strings. "Only the Ocean Knows" is an evocative and melodic song. These two are part of 6 tracks produced by Kevin O'Rahilly of Chain Complex, and these establish the style of the album overall, with some exceptions.
The album hits a different gear with "Kill the Distance" strong, rhythmically with a definite John Foxx type feel. The keyboards and the expressive voice of Dasha combining most effectively on the track. "Nobody is Here" is again a very successful song with its pretty keyboards and electronic hooks. To me, this would be a good song to promote the album as a whole.
The strength of the producers is important to the album. On "Access Denied" Dasha is expertly supported by Kiffies arrangement which occupies the shaded corners of electronica. Its all rather beautiful at this point.
"Cosmic Roses" has long been a favourite Dasha track. Deceptively complex beneath its simple surface, its like Dasha is channelling Portishead. In my view, if you cannot appreciate the stunning emotional impact of this song, well perhaps your heart was burnt many years before now. The phrase "your love is like roses beautiful and oh so sharp" is delivered in such a way as to melt, or perhaps freeze, icebergs. Xentinel and his production touches make this special.
"Leave the Night" with Montage Collective is another beautiful, slow tune which suggests some small hope, with this particular version a real high point.
The fact that you can dance to "Musical Express" does not mean you will. Its a faster tempo number but more of a trip through the mind. The mood and words are reflective. And lets put in a word for the words, here. They do not hit you straight away, but on reflection burn through on repeated listens. And the simplicity is deceptive here, there is much more beneath the icy electronic surface to investigate.
"Too Late" is the albums only epic at seven minutes long. A musical demonstration of tension, only relieved as the track proceeds too its conclusion.
There are a couple of quibbles. "Music is Dead" has appeared in a couple of versions and its just my personal preference for the original version. And I would love to hear different facets, voices and musical landscapes in the future, perhaps more aggressive avenues and worlds.
Overall as a debut and Dasha Larks delivers enough beautiful, melodic, haunting, melancholy to make it really worth investigating. The high points are extremely high indeed. 8.5/10
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