A beautiful blend of dissonance and elegance
Tirzah leaves behind the intimate, soulful Lofi sound for an avant-garde yet cinematic tone in her latest release, Colourgrade. Each track houses extraordinary sounds that seem to tickle all the senses, at times becoming somewhat uncomfortable, but it is Tirzah’s buttery and sultry vocals that bring this record home.
Colourgrade comes as this London native’s second full-length album, following up behind her 2018 release, Devotion. Along with these two full albums, Tirzah is decorated with an early EP from 2013 along with several singles and collaborated works marking her career. For this new album, Tirzah swaps out the beautiful sweeping melodies that evoke thoughts of love and intimacy for almost shocking robotic synthetics and guttural drones. Mixed into the odd sounds and sci-fi movie-style cinematic tones are her beautifully satisfying vocals. These vocals stand as a juxtaposition to the accompanying music. While yes, moments of this album are breathtaking, it is safe to say it is not going to be an easy first listen. To truly grasp the beauty of the record, a second and even a third listen may be needed.
The title track, “Colourgrade,” kicks off the record with silence and sudden entrances of a metallic and robotic voice. It is not until almost two minutes into the four-minute song that any type of musical sound comes through, and even then, it is more soundscape noise than music. The robot voice is accompanied by Tirzah’s singing voice, and both voices seem to battle it out. These voices try to out-talk the other, setting a very interesting mood for the record.
“Tectonic” is the first single off the album that is like a multi-layered cake where the fillings don’t all completely go together. At first, the song starts with a consistent drone with a sharp, dissonant piercing tone that makes one feel uneasy. Then, suddenly, it falls into a ‘90s pop drum and bass beat and then again bringing back the piercing tone and drone that cut in and out. But like a hot knife, Tirzah’s voice slices through and puts the mind in an instant trance.
Collaborating with Coby Sey for the track “Hive Mind” is the most stunning track off this record. There is a simply thumping drum beat that pumps through the full song and a slight eerie piano that plays to the end. Bouncing between ears, Coby Sey sings in the left ear with a perfect pairing of Tirzah’s vocals ringing on the right side. Both voices are oh so smooth and sultry that melt so perfectly together.
Lofi trap drums call the ears at the beginning of “Beating.” Again, this sound is deliberately simple, carrying only the same percussive pattern throughout with the same distorted keys and a rushing white noise. It is the vocals that once more save the song, giving it that element of beauty that keeps the ears intrigued.
While the record may at times be a bit odd and tough to get into, Tirzah’s latest release, Colourgrade, is worth the listen, though. It is the perfect balance of distorted grit and elegance.