Wrapped in a Sweater
Lisa Alma’s latest release on the Dumont Dumont label, Sweater, combines modernized 80s pop with a penchant for painting with sound. Also a performance artist and photographer, the Copenhagen-native’s visual talents translate naturally into Sweater’s fabric. Using synth and live sounds to color a musical landscape, Alma creates, to borrow her track title out of context, a “Raw” and emotional record.
Much of Alma’s curated experience listens like an impressionistic painting. An artistic blur softens as opposed to distorts, allowing for the listener to focus on the bigger-picture ‘impression’ rather than get hung up on the details. Each track is built from layers with ostinato riffs of live vocals, trumpet or keyboard/piano with synth and digital sounds. It’s often hard to tell which voices are live and which are digital, as reverb or other effects are added to each voice. The result is understated yet impactful.
The track, “Raw,” begins with a rhythm hook, interspersing piano chords and voice in short phrases. From the beginning, “Raw” imbues something seductive. A repeated ostinato on the lyrics, “All over again,” grows into a euphoric “This feels so good.” Not surprisingly, Alma says of the song, “I wrote this song after a first kiss… That raw feeling when bodies meet instead of words. It’s that moment when you’re not innocent any longer, you just want more. Like an orgasm.”
Alma’s breathy, at times ethereal vocal timbre plays with dissonance and meandering melodies in a way that demonstrates control and intention. The vocal line on “Fine” dips and weaves with many half-step, close intervals sampled in harmony with itself and at times in dissonance with the underlying voices. It is an incredibly interesting melody line that takes enormous talent to pull off so effectively.
Whether it’s the cool factor of “Fine,” the sexual progression of “Raw” or the heart-wrenching opening line, “No one can save me now,” from “Trouble,” Alma’s Sweater is like something one can wrap themselves up in emotionally. The pastiche of every track colors the world around the listener, a masterpiece of aural and visual art, without ever having to leave the house.