Dani Siciliano whispers like she has secrets, and then builds songs out of those whispers that speak to my heart. I am using the first-person in this review and you can’t stop me.
“Same” builds a nine-minute orchestral song-suite out of a couple of keyboards and an 808 and about 20 words and the space in between the sounds. Girl-glitch is a good thing, especially Japanese girl-glitch, and for a while I thought I liked “Same” because it sounded like Buffalo Daughter and OOIOO, all those obvious editing sounds becoming part of the vista, all the fear and understatement and carefully subscribed emotion packed into the bare minimum of aural information, like haiku, like a line drawing of Mt. Fuji, like the arch of an eyebrow containing every single emotion contained in every song ever recorded.
Then I realized that that was pretentious, and that I just liked “Same” because it’s pretty and because I never know where it’s headed next. Is this the part where the harp-thingie comes in? When does that vocal loop start to double back on itself? Wow, I never heard that verse before, I thought there was only one verse. It’s like when I first heard “Roundabout”—it goes on forever but no one sane would mind that. Damn.
“She Say Cliché” is clockwork tik-tok funk made up of industrial sounds and Dani 18-tracking her voice, sighs of “Take it from me / I’m open” and gasps and staccato semi-raps and hisses of “I want you” and “I need you” and other important clichés. There are also some anvil sounds and arpeggios and a hilarious interjection of Salt-N-Pepa “Baby baby baby”-ism, and a bass tone that sounds like it’s got narcolepsy and is only barely rousing itself.
Sometimes I get sad for no reason. Sometimes I travel in space. I need a soundtrack. Dani says that’s okay.
“Collaboration” begins in outer space and travels to Memphis on the way to my skull. I was walking early in the morning listening to this and the key changes bounced my head off the turnbuckle of the world. Then the key changes stopped and we went into drone mode again and I realized that I had to go home and hug everyone I was mad at because Dani told me I had to: “Show me when it is when you breathe again / To catch me in your fall / To catch me when you fall”.
Dani Siciliano is affiliated with Matthew Herbert. If you know who he is you’ll understand a little more about this record, but it’s her album, not his, as far as I can tell. This is the kind of record you make when you don’t know what to say to people, or instead of saying what you really want to say, or instead of watching an old “My Wife and Kids” repeat, or instead of storming the castle.
When my daughter heard “Walk the Line” she nailed it. She said it was funky but that it wasn’t really a dance song, “if she wanted you to dance she would stop all the music and just ROCK OUT”. There are other songs here that use the skin of dance music but not its heart or muscle: “Extra Ordinary” conjures up “Let’s Dance” and undercuts it with “I’m Not in Love” vocal bits, and always threatens to bust out into something bigger, the Depeche Mode build starts after about a minute, rattling new wave discopercussion, joy in repetition, but we’re stuck along with our guide in her own hell, looping back around and around: “Ordinarily / I don’t ache / When I pine / Why does it ache / Ordinarily”. And then she says she wants to know, because we all want to know. And then everything gets all weird, the notes turn into snippets of noise, they turn harsher and stabbier, Dani says “I wanna know / Is it fast, is it low? / Does it want to make a sound? / Does it follow you around?”. The melody becomes a haunting echo of a melody of an R&B song from the 1990’s that I just can’t remember; it is also a lot like the commercial for Oregon cheddar cheese that they used to play when I was a kid growing up in Portland. (“Did you bake, did you fry? / Did you put some on your pie?”)
And then things get really weird, and then Dani says “Is this ordinary?” Yes. And no.
I have not talked about her cover of Nirvana’s “Come As You Are”.
On “All the Above”, something quite extra ordinary happens. It’s a duet with Ornelias Mugison, all Space:1999 mothership tidbits and floaty washes, then she starts: “One of these days / I could get one of these days / If I rent one of these days”, then commands him, “You repeat”, so he does: “One of these days”. Because you do what Dani says. They almost start trading lines, and then they stop because they’re confused, and then he says “Let’s keep on going” so they try that. And then your mind splits open because at the 3:31 an accordion comes into play and it becomes a sexy tango full of “you made your choices” and “to forgive is to forget” and “all the above make love” and “no regret”.
Bossa nova is the default music of heartbreak. This record keeps breaking into bossa nova and then breaking apart.
“Remember to Forget I” might be the softest pillow I’ve ever rested on.
“Red” sounds like Timbaland did the beat, until the fake horns come in all syncopating.
This is the music inside my head when I’m not there.
// Notes from the Road
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