Lyndsie Alguire – Clair Obscur

Alguire

Most of the time I try to review albums as if they were a debut release, without historical context about the artists involved, and presented without packaging.
It’s arguable, I know, but this way I try to let the music do all the work and listen to it as unbiased as possible.

This is why I wish I had NOT seen the package images for this release of Lyndsie Alguire‘s Clair Obscur” .
For now I somehow feel like the guy that keeps arguing he ónly reads Playboy Magazine because of its interviews…

Clair Obscur is a recent release in the Special Edition series of Time Released Sound:  hand-crafted meticulously into very special (and I might say ‘luscious’) packages that are pieces of art in itself.

Since one cannot just simply review a Time Released Sound release without mentioning the package, I’ll quote the description of this Clair Obscur edition:

“The package will incorporate beautifully printed reproductions of 8 polaroid prints taken of her by her photographer friend, Mat Guerin. The 8 prints, after each being hand typed upon, will be hinge mounted to both sides of a folded, 15″ long, 100 year old educational flash card….each with somewhat strange unfinished sentences thereon, which may be read by lifting back the photos. This fat little photo booklet, with hand stamped mini disc in sleeve, and insert, will come in a hand stamped and adorned 4.5″ square envelope. In an edition of 100 copies.”


Alguire Typewriter

I’m pleased to say that the music is a pleasant and very enjoyable surprise, too!

On Clair Obscur“, Lyndsie Alguire presents a well balanced (though, with 22 minutes, a bit short) album, balancing pleasant and light-hearted piano tracks with somewhat darker layered soundscapes opening and closing the album (with “All Possible Stories” taking up about half this album).

I remember a discussion on the ambient mailing list a few years ago, about ‘women in ambient’, wondering why there were so few female artists creating ambient/electronic music. Things have definitely changed, for nowadays there are a lot more women on the scene than before (as musicians as well as in the audience).
But in the end sex should make no difference. It’s the music that counts.
And Lyndsie Alguire’s music definitely counts!

By the way:
This album was preceded by two earlier titles that are interesting to check out if (like me) you have not heard about Lyndsie Alguire before: Suspended in Light” (2011) and After Image” (2013).
Both albums were released on Camomille netlabel (which offers a lot of interesting and free downloads), and can be downloaded on a Name Your Price basis (which also includes free, but you should of course consider a donation!)


LYNDSIE ALGUIRE – I WAS DREAMING OF YOU

And as another aside: for another (and recent, so possibly still available) example of the Time Released Sound special editions you should also take a look at the deluxe version of Listen to my Nerves Humby Benjamin Finger).

 

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6 Comments

  1. Allen

    Got to agree with Sofia here. You spent the whole article talking about the ‘package images’, as if that is what you want your readers to buy the album for, then just mentioned the music as an irrelevant footnote – “…enjoyable surprise, too!” That Playboy line in the beginning only makes things worse, while your last paragraph, after all that stuff, about “wondering why there are so few female artists” is so ironical that I laughed. Trash article, trash blog.

    1. Though I still have mixed feelings about this I must admit the criticism is right, and I probably never would’ve chosen the same words again. It would be the easiest way to simply delete this (2013!) post and make it disappear, wouldn’t it?
      But that would be cowardly too. And the discussion in the comments would disappear too, which would be a shame in my opinion. So I leave it up, trash as it may be…

      But as for your last remark: is ALL of the blog complete trash just for this single disputable miss? Does one rotten blogpost spoil the whole blog, including all mixes and everything else..?

  2. PvC

    Although it isn’t exactly a note-by-note detailed analysis, I spent a few words about that in the review ( but obviously not with enough words to notice it 😉 )

    “…a pleasant and very enjoyable surprise!”

    “a well balanced album, balancing pleasant and light-hearted piano tracks with somewhat darker layered soundscapes opening and closing the album. ”

    Besides, it made me check out the two earlier albums on Bandcamp too which I definitely wouldn’t have done if I had not liked it (in that case there wouldn’t have been a review either, BTW)

  3. Lyndsie

    Hey guys! First of all thanks for the review, Peter. If you have the time, I’d love to hear what you thought about the music =P

    I’m glad to see a discussion going on here, and I was prepared for this when I chose to use nude imagery. As you said, the viewer has the freedom to interpret things the way they wish, but as far as artistic intention, I did not set out to make erotic or titillating images. They are definitely not sexual in nature. It’s about raw power and vulnerability.

    Again, hope you enjoyed the music and would love to know what you thought of it, as I know you are already a fan of Colin’s packages =)

    Cheers

  4. PvC

    Thanks for reacting, I do appreciate that.
    You may not believe it, but actually I have thought about the content of this review quite a long time before publishing it, and have taken some of the things you say into careful consideration.

    First thing: about the music in relation to the album artwork. Looking back, you are right in that this is hardly a review of the music…it’s more a review of the complete release package.
    If you check the special edition releases of Time Released Sound, it’s clear that they take extreme care about the packaging. Sometimes even up to the point where the package seems to be the product, supported by the music – the dangerous moment where ‘form’ might become more important than ‘content’.
    There’s no possibility (and it wouldn’t be right) to review those albums without mentioning the package artwork.

    Which in this particular case is a striking and remarkable series of nude photography, not ‘just’ nude photography, but also portraying the artist herself. Which is even more remarkable because both are quite unusual for the ambient music genre, where covers are mostly quite abstract in nature.

    When I saw this package I thought that it is a somewhat provocative artistic statement, which also could not be left out of the review – I had the feeling that it would be hypocritical NOT to make reference to the photographs included.

    It may be due my ‘dirty male mind’, as I understand it from your reaction, but to be honest I really wonder how many people will look at these pictures and think “hmm, that is an aesthetically pleasing image, which just happens to show her body“…
    Please note I’m specifically using the word ‘erotic’ here, which I think is a compliment, as opposed to the negative connotations of ‘fetishism’ or ‘pornography’ – which I really would not use at all for photographs like this.
    There is nothing wrong with ‘erotic’, in my opinion. It is a positive word.
    And of course, what is erotic and what is not is mainly in the eye of the beholder. Personally, I think not much discussion is needed about the ‘erotic’ impact of these pictures.

    The Playboy reference was obviously an introduction meant to be an ‘attention starter’. It is a common joke, of course, about “reading it for the interviews”, but not really far from the truth either: there definitely was a time when their in-depth interviews were famous for their content and were considered serious journalism, not just ‘useless text’

    To conclude: I am sorry if I offended you – but I think you’re accusing me of something I’m not, in this respect, but that’s fine.
    But I am also glad you did react this way since I think this discussion fits the album, review, and to the artistic decisions that were made.
    My very first reaction to the pictures was “what statement is this? In what way is this different from other album artwork, showing a vague abstract landscape”?
    I think I’ve taken careful consideration and introspection in choosing this ‘sexist’ (as you call it) approach, and I hope I can assure you this is not simply “how I will review female artists in the future” – although I must confess that may depend on the artwork 😉

  5. Sofia

    Your review of her album is hardly a review of the music. You liken her album artwork and music to reading a text in Playboy, which is really degrading. What you’re essentially saying is her music is the accompaniment (useless text) to the album artwork (pornographic images in Playboy). And you really wonder why there are so few women in the ambient music industry? Her album artwork is an exploration of an image that happens to show her body. YOU’RE the one who is sexualizing her body with your commentary, I really don’t understand why you can’t accept a female nude as aesthetically pleasing without fetishizing it. I think you need some introspection on how you review female artists in the future, because this was terribly sexist.

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