Release Date: Oct 28, 2016
Record label: Blackest Ever Black
A year after Australian trio F ingers released Hide Before Dinner, an excellent album of haunting darkwave folk, the group's co-founder Carla dal Forno (who had relocated to Berlin) released her solo debut, You Know What It's Like. The album is every bit as enchanting as its predecessor, but there's a sharper focus on dal Forno's songwriting skills this time around. Her vocals aren't always quite as shrouded in effects, and the recordings don't sound as lo-fi or distorted.
Technically speaking, Australian musician Carla dal Forno is a singer-songwriter, but her solo debut album shows her mindset is closer to that of a lighting director or set designer. Where even experimental singer-songwriters privilege vocals and chord progressions, dal Forno emphasizes the marginal details, to the extent that what we might think of as the “song” at the core of each track either dissolves outright or lingers in the background as a set of out-of-focus shapes. Dal Forno’s approach falls closer in spirit to ambient music.
Blackest Ever Black has typically been a label where disparate things are brought together. It's only in hindsight that you spot the common threads connecting its roster of oddballs and stragglers. But the label isn't young any more, and there's a new generation of artists for whom BEB itself is a primary influence.Australian artist Carla Dal Forno has graced the label twice before, making dirgy guitar pop as one third of F Ingers and wilder synth explorations in the duo Tarcar.
When Carla Dal Forno began working on You Know What It’s Like, she had mostly made music in collaborative settings, with various Melbourne bands: the Flying Nun-ready punk band Mole House, the death-folk outlet Fingers, and the trippy electronic duo Tarcar. Feeling compelled to try her own hand at production, she set up basic recording equipment at her kitchen table and set out to discover what her musical impulses might manifest standing alone. That exploratory mind-set permeates every aspect of her first full-length effort.
What to make of Carla dal Forno’s new record? In fact, should we really be listening? Recently I saw her play the songs from her solo debut, You Know What It’s Like, in Rotterdam. It felt like we, the audience, were intruding: the way she moved on the small stage felt like we were watching her unobtrusively act out some private catharsis in front of her bedroom mirror. We felt that we shouldn’t have been there.