Release Date: Mar 10, 2015
Record label: Buzz Records
Anna Mayberry's work in her minimalist folk project Anamai differs a great deal from what she does in noisy powerhouses HSY, a band that operates with the main concerns of filling spaces and flattening audiences. Her work as Anamai can be just as arresting, even though the music achieves that goal with an emotional heaviness and not a physical one.Mayberry first introduced the project in late 2013 with a short demo cassette that showcased her strong sense of melody and unique, otherworldly vocal style. Those demos were produced by David Psutka (EGYPTRIXX, Hiawatha), whose skills with electronics helped give them a very modern feel.
As a singer in HSY, Anna Mayberry’s ornery snarl usually gets washed into the background. The Toronto noise band's sludge-punk clamor reaches volumes that rival METZ or Cellphone (Toronto has proven in recent years to excel in producing impressively loud acts), and the cacophony might not always offer the greatest support for a multifaceted voice like Mayberry’s. Her nuanced tone is buried even further under the primal shouts of lead singer, Jude, but if you listen beneath the din, it's clear that Mayberry actually has an exquisite voice.
A hauntingly bleak, ephemeral collection of sound pieces, Sallows possesses a meditative quality within which it becomes easy to get lost. Playing like a half-remembered dream, these songs flits in and out of focus: repetitive phrases cropping up here and there; liquid reverb pooling in the corners; ethereal melodic wisps creating a faint, impenetrable fog. So delicate and brittle is this music, it threatens to crumble under closer inspection.
I'm not normally one for the tacky clichés of love at first sight, but I can make exceptions: there are undoubtedly times when I've met someone, or heard the first notes of a record, and immediately understood that something wonderful and serendipitous is happening. Sallows, the debut album from Toronto-based Anamai (otherwise known as Anna Mayberry of noise-punkers HSY), is one of those records. On the surface, it might be tough to explain such a profound reaction.
There's a distinct déjà vu quality to Anna Mayberry's dreamy vocals in her solo project, Anamai, and yet no immediate comparisons come to mind. A press release suggests Chelsea Wolfe and Weyes Blood as kindred spirits, but Anamai's debut LP - the product of HSY's Mayberry and Egyptrixx's David Psutka - is more elusive and subtle, with a heavy drone-induced weight that comfortably settles in the back of your throat. This sense of familiarity and uniqueness is why Sallows instantly resonates, while maintaining its mystery listen after listen.