[28 October 2010]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
What Liam Singer has over other indie-label artists who sing pretty and play the piano prettier is a uniquely experimental approach to pop music. Though sometimes seeming like a singer-songwriter, that label doesn’t fit his habit for musical exploration and composition, or his clear interest in minimalist and avant-garde composers. His music has the stately and cerebral sides of modern composition, not to mention the beauty and grace, but also an intimacy and directness more often associated with one person playing one instrument and singing. This is very emotional music that uses all of the tactics at Singer’s disposal, for greatest impact. That means not just someone communicating directly to listeners, using a voice to carry ideas and feelings into their skull, but also people singing together (often Singer and Wendy Allen of Boxharp), their voices overlapping, and singers using their voices in unexpectedly dramatic ways, witnessing how different tones and mannerisms have different effects. The singers float melodies our ways and fight them.
Along with that are rich musical settings that range from piano alone to elaborate combinations of choirs and instruments, hand claps and random strange noises. Dislocatia, produced by Scott Solter, captures that weird and majestic quality of Singer’s music more vividly than any of his previous releases, in the process highlighting the strange and familiar heart beating through every song. In the rapturous “From Fast to Slow—Behind This World”, there is the line, “There is a world behind this world / There is a sun behind the sun”. On Dislocatia, Singer seems determined to find what is around us that we don’t know about, and to make us feel like we’ve done the same, participating in an exciting act of discovery.