Music

Anna Domino: East and West + Singles

This expanded reissue of Domino's debut EP begs the question, Why wasn't she as big as Kate Bush or even Julee Cruise?


Anna Domino

East and West + Singles

Label: Les Disques du Crepuscule
Release Date: 2017-05-05
Amazon
iTunes

Anna Domino is American, but she signed with a Belgian record label and had most of here commercial success in Europe. To American and British audiences, she is best known for singing on someone else's record, providing background vocals on a single track on The The's Infected (1986).

Yet Domino has maintained her low-key music career. She released a spate of albums and singles in the 1980s, and later recorded as one-half of Snakefarm. Enough people listen to and care about Domino's music to warrant a vinyl/download reissue of her first EP, East and West, first released in 1984. An outtake and b-side from those sessions as well as both sides of a stand-alone single have been added to create East and West + Singles.

It's a bit surprising Domino did not get more recognition and college radio airplay at the time. East and West + Singles presents a low-key, sultry, somnambulant, cosmopolitan art pop. It fits right in with what one might expect from the high-class Les Disques Du Crepuscule label, which also released music from Paul Haig, Cabaret Voltaire, and the Durutti Column. Furthermore, the sound will be instantly familiar to anyone who is acquainted with fellow '80s purveyors of sophisticated art pop. East + West + Singles slots in effortlessly with the likes of Kate Bush, Julee Cruise, Bryan Ferry, and Peter Gabriel.

Like those artists, Domino makes pop music that sounds like it was created with a canvas rather than a recording studio. There are tribal polyrhythms, chilled-out horns, twangy guitar, and a steadily ticking drum machine, and that's just the intro of first track "With the Day Comes the Dawn". It is a bewitching, evocative bed of sound onto which Domino's pleasant, laconic voice drops effortlessly. All that's missing is a David Lynch movie to go with it.

Even better is the stunning version of Aretha Franklin's "Land of My Dreams". Domino takes the swing and the soul out of the song, replacing it with keyboards that circle back on themselves claustrophobically. In place of Aretha's brassy emoting is Domino's naked, fragile croon. When she sings, "In the land of my dreams / You would love me so much more", it is with sadness rather than determination. She truly makes the song her own.

The remainder of East and West + Singles stays on that dreamy, understated course. "Review" is the closest thing to a straight pop number, thanks mainly to a catchy bassline and some handclap effects. "Trust in Love", Domino's debut single, is funky in an abstract, Talking Heads-with-Eno way. Other tracks waft on by without leaving an impression at all. The vaguely Eastern-sounding "Repeating" fulfills its title, unfortunately, slinking around for a good while but trying one's patience.

The "Zanna" single with Belgian art/industrial mainstay Luc Van Acker fares much better, picking up the pace slightly but adding the sort of pulsing bedroom easy-funk Ferry had by that point mastered. Jazzy B-side "Rhythm" is almost as good, but the demo "Dreamback" with its skeletal, synth-heavy arrangement just doesn't fit.

Unlike her like-minded contemporaries, Domino never had a moment when the pop outweighed the atmosphere. That makes East and West + Singles more of an acquired taste, but it's one worth savoring.

6
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Reading Pandemics

Pandemic, Hope, Defiance, and Protest in 'Romeo and Juliet'

Shakespeare's well known romantic tale Romeo and Juliet, written during a pandemic, has a surprisingly hopeful message about defiance and protest.

Film

A Family Visit Turns to Guerrilla Warfare in 'The Truth'

Catherine Deneuve plays an imperious but fading actress who can't stop being cruel to the people around her in Hirokazu Koreeda's secrets- and betrayal-packed melodrama, The Truth.

Music

The Top 20 Punk Protest Songs for July 4th

As punk music history verifies, American citizenry are not all shiny, happy people. These 20 songs reflect the other side of patriotism -- free speech brandished by the brave and uncouth.

Books

90 Years on 'Olivia' Remains a Classic of Lesbian Literature

It's good that we have our happy LGBTQ stories today, but it's also important to appreciate and understand the daunting depths of feeling that a love repressed can produce. In Dorothy Strachey's case, it produced the masterful Olivia.

Music

Indie Rocker Alpha Cat Presents 'Live at Vox Pop' (album stream)

A raw live set from Brooklyn in the summer of 2005 found Alpha Cat returning to the stage after personal tumult. Sales benefit organizations seeking to end discrimination toward those seeking help with mental health issues.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

'The Avengers: Endgame' Faces the Other Side of Loss

Whereas the heroes in Avengers: Endgame stew for five years, our pandemic grief has barely taken us to the after-credit sequence. Someone page Captain Marvel, please.

Music

Between the Grooves of Nirvana's 'Nevermind'

Our writers undertake a track-by-track analysis of the most celebrated album of the 1990s: Nirvana's Nevermind. From the surprise hit that brought grunge to the masses, to the hidden cacophonous noise-fest that may not even be on your copy of the record, it's all here.

Music

Deeper Graves Arrives via 'Open Roads' (album stream)

Chrome Waves, ex-Nachtmystium man Jeff Wilson offers up solo debut, Open Roads, featuring dark and remarkable sounds in tune with Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus.

Featured: Top of Home Page

The 50 Best Albums of 2020 So Far

Even in the coronavirus-shortened record release schedule of 2020, the year has offered a mountainous feast of sublime music. The 50 best albums of 2020 so far are an eclectic and increasingly "woke" bunch.

Books

First Tragedy, Then Farce, Then What?

Riffing off Marx's riff on Hegel on history, art historian and critic Hal Foster contemplates political culture and cultural politics in the age of Donald Trump in What Comes After Farce?

Reviews

HAIM Create Their Best Album with 'Women in Music Pt. III'

On Women in Music Pt. III, HAIM are done pretending and ready to be themselves. By learning to embrace the power in their weakest points, the group have created their best work to date.

Music

Amnesia Scanner's 'Tearless' Aesthetically Maps the Failing Anthropocene

Amnesia Scanner's Tearless aesthetically maps the failing Anthropocene through its globally connected features and experimental mesh of deconstructed club, reggaeton, and metalcore.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.