Vanessa Daou

Plutonium Glow [Oxygen]

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Zipless and Slow to Burn were preoccupied with matters of this earth, particularly corporeal matters such as desire and yearning. Plutonium Glow, on the other hand, while still intensely sweaty, shifts its focus to the stars. Vanessa Daou sounds even more dynamic in this setting. Daou has a voice like a feather that literally floats off into the crisp night air, leaving the listener with a sweet but sometimes sorrowful aftertaste. Her voice, as much of a thin wisp as it is, seems to be reverberating from some deep, dark place and, like her first two albums, betrays an almost zealous, sacred sense of passion mirrored by the striking, contrasting imagery in her lyrics to songs such as "Alive" and "Cherries in the Snow." Futuristic keyboard arrangements leave a lot of space in the music, opening it up to a certain mystery. Peter Daou seems to be drawing from a more expansive bag of sounds on Plutonium Glow than he has in the past, particularly electronic sources. Spacy blips and bleeps dart in and out of the songs, propelling the music toward the vague essence of a future dotted with references to orbits and rockets, the speed of light, and other bleak, spacy elements. He has incorporated some cutting-edge effects into the music, as well. "Zero G" has an echoey, panting sound looped as part of the background rhythm, and innovative beats that are slowly inductive form a core focus on the album. The title song offers a rhythm track with kitchen-sink effects that wants to move into drum'n'bass overdrive, though it never actually reaches that point. Overall, the music has an expansiveness and a wide-open quality. It has depth and is distancing, but never off-putting, never less than palpable. The Daous continue to create stimulating (in more ways than one) and forward-looking music, equally at home on the dancefloor, in the car, and in the comforts of a bedroom. [Oxygen released the CD in 1997.]

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