|When The Cellar Children See The Light Of Day
Mirel Wagner — When The Cellar Children See The Light Of Day
♠ Wagner se elegantně vyrovnává s tématy, která jsou opomíjena nebo ignorována, ať už úmyslně nebo jinak.
♠ Písně psala v izolaci. Má z čeho čerpat: je to původně Ethiopanka a ve věku 18-ti měsíců byla osvojena ve finské rodině. Jsou zaměřeny na smrt, vypráví na nich úplně sama pouze s kytarou a osamocení je v písni cítit.
♠ Přes veškerou temnotu, povznášející proužek světla prosákne: trefnými závěrečnými slovy: "Zítra, zítra, budeme v pořádku / Společně navždy, teď a v čase."
♠ Mimořádné a přesvědčivé. Exceptional songs from under the floorboards. Jedno z alb roku. Verdikt: 5/5. © Photo credit: Aki Roukala
Location: Ethiopia ~ Finland
Album release: August 12, 2014
Record Label: Sub Pop
01. 1 2 3 4 2:10
02. The Dirt 3:38
03. Ellipsis 3:43
04. Oak Tree 3:02
05. In My Father's House 3:37
06. Dreamt Of A Wave 2:29
07. The Devil's Tongue 2:15
08. What Love Looks Like 3:09
09. Taller Than Tall Trees 4:56
10. Goodnight 2:08
♠ "Mirel Wagner back in 2011 released her eponymous debut. That album contained some of the most suffocatingly dark folk music you’ll find this decade, songs filled with suicide, death, and in the case of the unshakeable No Death, necrophilia. Wagner recorded that album by herself on acoustic guitar in about 48 hours, so it was exciting and nerve-wracking to speculate what might happen when she got bigger and what might happen to that intimate sound. After a recent announcement that she’d signed to Sub Pop, it seemed more likely that 2014 would be the year we find out.
♠ In August, Wagner will return with her second album, When the Cellar Children See the Light of Day. Rather than self-recording, it surprisingly finds Wagner working with dance producer Vladislav Delay, better known by his moniker Luomo, who crafted the 2000 house classic Vocalcity. That pairing might seem strange, but it’s actually a stroke of brilliance. Vocalcity’s greatest achievement was its truly genius sound design especially in regard to the human voice, and that’s exactly what Delay brings to Wagner’s stark, funereal sound."
By Graham Reid, 5:00 AM Thursday Sep 4, 2014; Score: ****½
♠ Pitched somewhere between a weary self-analysing Kurt Cobain acoustic session, Mazzy Star raised on death ballads and P.J Harvey's most introspective work, this concise collection — 10 songs, 32 minutes — comes from an unlikely but powerfully impressive source.
♠ Wagner is a 23-year-old Ethiopian adoptee who was raised in Finland from the age of 18 months and considers herself Finnish, although her lyrical content here speaks of universal truths of loneliness, suppressed horrors behind surfaces (or down in the cellar as the title track and the scary My Father's House allude to) and ever-present death, notably on the chilling song The Dirt, about a starving child consoling its mother as it goes into the great void: "I'm not afraid, I'm ready now ... you can't eat the dirt even if you want to".
♠ Equally dark is Dreamt of a Wave ("the wave was not water but flesh and blood and bone") but Wagner delivers these songs with such caring intimacy and as such up-close folk that you are drawn in, even when the devil haunts the world and love is a bitter taste (What Love Looks Like).
♠ Tall Trees has the relentless surge of early Patti Smith.
Extraordinary, and compelling. Verdict: Exceptional songs from under the floorboards.
By KATIE PRESLEY, August 03, 201411:03 AM ET
♠ Flannery O'Connor, a writer familiar with the weight of darkness, described the look of a dying woman as one "of a person whose sight has been suddenly restored but who finds the light unbearable." The music of Finnish singer-songwriter Mirel Wagner speaks to a similar knowledge: that light and dark cannot exist without each other, that one is not inherently more valuable than the other, and that the combination of the two is what measures a life.
♠ As is implied in the title of her second album, When the Cellar Children See the Light of Day, Wagner makes haunting, revelatory music for hidden places. Her gentle, unembellished voice and bluesy acoustic guitar are as simple and superficially soothing as lullabies at first listen, but her subject matter is decidedly not for children, and the sleep toward which she sings is not temporary.
♠ Opening track "1 2 3 4" starts with the line, "1 2 3 4 / What's underneath the floor?" — and perfectly frames the album's mission to exhume what usually stays buried. The song follows in the footsteps of "No Death," a love song housed in necrophilic terms from Wagner's 2012 debut. (Which should also provide a hint as to what lies underneath the floor.) To the same degree that she sings for hidden places, Wagner sings for the dead; as a songwriter, she seems interested in digging past the heart of any matter and into bone. Floorboards can't keep secrets, death can't stop love, and squeamishness won't save you from knowing what you'd rather not know.
♠ "I got a big big heart and lots of love, and it's hard," Wagner sings later in "1 2 3 4." In the same way that Hurray for the Riff Raff confronted the murder-ballad tradition in this year's "The Body Electric" by singing to a ballad's victims, Wagner aligns herself with subjects that are forgotten or ignored, intentionally or otherwise. Having a big big heart and lots of love isn't easy when you vow to love what's largely considered unlovable. Bringing darkness into light, and shedding light into the dark, may feel as unbearable as Flannery O'Connor described. But the dedication to doing both quietly and beautifully is a specific ecstasy in which Mirel Wagner excels.
By Matthew Fiander; 25 August 2014; Score: 6
♠ The songs for Mirel Wagner’s second record (and first for Sub Pop), When the Cellar Children See the Light of Day, were written in isolation. Wagner worked on these songs alone, so no wonder these songs feel so isolated. The production adds elements occasionally, but the focus is on her closely microphoned voice and acoustic guitar. There’s a coffin-like closeness and aloneness to each and every song on this haunting record. It’s a fitting feel for a record so focused on death.
Opener “1 2 3 4” is a lullaby in the most classical sense: it’s sweet and hushed and terrifying at its core. Wagner wonders what might be under the floorboards, perhaps a body with “pretty little face, pretty little eyes / big fat belly birthing out flies.” All the more frightening is the way Wagner eases into the role of killer in the second verse, plainly stating “I’ve got a big, big heart and lots of love” for all her victims. “The Dirt” is not as immediately violent, but it’s equally painful in its rendering of the long road from hunger and poverty to death. “You can’t eat the dirt,” she says, but also “you’ll be the dirt.”
♠ Other songs find troubling corners in what should be comforting places. “In My Father’s House” is a horror show of smiling, polite faces, children who never cry, servants who change sheets without asking. As the song builds, it’s clear this isn’t some utopia but rather a chilling expectation from a ruling and scary patriarch. On “Dreamt of a Wave”, any chance for the cleansing or birth metaphors that go along with water is dashed when Wagner tells us the wave was “flesh and blood and bone” in a low growl.
♠ What’s most effective, and chilling, about Wagner’s songs is that she doesn’t try to make death and the macabre into beauty necessarily, there’s no attempt to shine it up. Instead, her voice is plainspoken, delivering the shadowy details not as a means to understanding but as cold, hard fact. Her voice does have a subtle range in this delivery, and is tense and evocative, but it’s also always half whisper, as if Wagner herself is hiding from something or trying not to wake something up.
♠ And that something, whatever it is, you get the feeling on this record that it could be anywhere. Every time Wagner plucks a note or strikes a chord, you seem to hear two things: the sound and the chasm of silence around it. There aren’t progressions here so much as there are archipelagoes of notes or chords with oceans of space between them. This use of space and silence makes a half-hour-long record feel far longer and weightier. It also creates a sort of strange limbo space where there’s little comfort or catharsis for the listener, yet they’re drawn in anyway. There are songs like “What Love Looks Like” that mention the possibility of connection, but there’s a deep skepticism in these moments, and on a record where death seems so commonplace, love is what ends up feeling alien, even unwanted.
♠ When the Cellar Children See the Light of Day is an insistently dark record, and that constant shadowy feeling can, in moments, take its toll. But Wagner has seemed to peel folk and blues traditions down to their bone, bringing underlying anxieties up to surface in these often mesmerizing songs. Still, when she drifts ghost-like through “The Devil’s Tongue” or “Oak Tree”, you can start to feel the limits of an album so dedicated to these themes, this isolation. Because, while the best moments here resonate, the album can occasionally feel stuck back in that cabin they were written in. ♠ It’s hard to strike a balance in music between the sound of isolation and the connection to an audience. Mirel Wagner finds that tether more often than not on this album, but sometimes it’s so dark that that tie is hard to see.
By Shane Kimberlin | Posted on 11 Aug 2014 | Score: ****½
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