Matchess

Sacracorpa

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AllMusic Review by

Sacracorpa is the third part of an album trilogy from Whitney Johnson's solo project Matchess, which began with the intriguing Seraphastra and continued with the phenomenal Somnaphoria. (A darker, sadder release titled The Rafter, created in response to a breakup, was unrelated to the trilogy.) As usual, the Matchess sound consists of a haunting, enigmatic blend of entrancing synth-driven rhythms, exquisite viola, and alien-sounding vocals. With Sacracorpa, however, a little bit of the fog is lifted. It's still incredibly dreamy, but the overall sound is brighter, cleaner, and more optimistic. The drum machines are switched up from a murky trudge to an upbeat, nearly techno-like pulse, and the vocals are clearer and more prominent in the mix. That said, it's still nearly impossible to tell what she's singing -- Johnson continues to stress the importance of maintaining a sense of mystery. Songs like "Ossify Them" contain a mixture of ticking drum machines, swirling synths, and subtly catchy vocal melodies. The second half of the album is stranger, trippier, and more possessed than the first. "Violent Overthrow (Or, the Sense of the Greatest Wealth)" brings back some of the squealing tape feedback of earlier releases, along with rushing water sounds and vocals that drift off the beaten path. "The Misty Realm" is the album's captivating centerpiece, with wintry organ notes floating over a triplet-heavy drum machine beat, and a stirring chorus that erupts in upward gasps. Closing tune "Of Freedom" places the focus on Johnson's viola playing, with simple yet commanding melodies surrounding her shadowy vocals, ending with a burst of distant, twisted feedback and ominous droning. Sacracorpa might be the most down-to-earth Matchess album yet, but she still hasn't come close to sounding like anyone else.

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