Hecuba: Paradise

[4 June 2009]

By Erin Lyndal Martin

Parasdise is the debut from Hecuba, a duo (a duo comprised of Isabel Albuquerque and Jon Beasley). The album is surprising in its simplicity—the album seems homemade at some points because of said simplicity—but ultimately the bare-bones aesthetic makes listeners question their own concepts of songcraft.

Paradise is minimal, but it is not minimalist music in the contemporary classical sense of Arvo Pärt or Philip Glass. While those composers work by maximizing the sound of a single note or short pattern of notes, Hecuba instead reconfigures songs as Tetris games with basic blocks that interlock in various ways. To continue the Tetris metaphor, the basic shapes would be simple beats, a repetitive synth line, and vocals that are either unadulterated or worked through the most primal of special postproduction effects. What’s surprising is that even with this unusual aesthetic most songs on Paradise are dancefloor-ready.

A few songs possess more ornamentation, though they still continue the threads from the other portions of the album. “Suffering” is a busier song spilling over with heyday New Wave influence, but its execution is never ostentatious, even with its dramatic (and fantastically triumphant) ending. Hecuba’s unique approach to music is bound to be polarizing. Listeners will most likely fall into the my-kid-could-do-that camp or start worshipping at the inevitably nearly-bare altar of Hecuba.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/hecuba-paradise/