Christina Vantzou

No. 1

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Little surprise that multi-media (as opposed to multimedia, per se) artist Christina Vantzou's debut solo album follows in the vein of her previous collaboration, the Dead Texan, as well as that band's progenitor, Stars of the Lid -- the through-line of slow, beautiful, and seemingly effortless melancholic elegance is a constant. But Vantzou's work here just as readily suggests Gavin Bryars' 1990s version of The Sinking of the Titanic and other equally dark ambient work from that decade from such composers as Thomas K├Âner and, in his Lull guise, Mick Harris. Beginning with the strings and raindrop piano notes of "Homemade Mountains," the appropriately titled No. 1 makes for a debut that doesn't so much announce its presence as gently but darkly note it. With each composition having the feeling and pace of a spectral sigh, the emphasis lies in how Vantzou explores that space, sometimes with a sudden heartbreaking immediacy, as when a string part comes to the fore in the second half of "Super Interlude, Pt. 2." It can be the morose howls of "Prelude for Juan" or the stretched-out bliss of "And Instantly Take Effect," but the whole is an embrace of space in sound that relies on a gentle but continual variety. Meanwhile, the sound of distant trumpets on "Super Interlude, Pt. 1" and "Adversary," among other songs, introduces a feeling of elegiac distance, somewhere between the end of an epic movie sequence and a last farewell on a battlefield.

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