Release Date: Sep 29, 2009
Record label: Nettwerk
Genre(s): Rock, Alternative, Folk
When Hope Sandoval unexpectedly materialised a decade ago in the midst of the Chemical Brothers’ otherwise-alarmingly-housey big beat thesis Surrender, her very presence crowbarred a heavy-lidded eye into the whip of the storm, slamming the metaphorical brakes on one of the most relentlessly badgering dance albums of the dying Ninties. In a sense, her paralysingly narcotic cameo on mid-album standout ‘Asleep From Day’ tells you most of what you might need to know about Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions, even if life has thus far cruelly deprived you of the chance to wade throat-deep into her quicksand vocals for divine, sadly dormant Santa Monica shoegazers Mazzy Star Perhaps fittingly for an artist who seems hell-bent on creating an army of somnolent, blissed-out disciples to do her vaguely sinister bidding, Sandoval has taken her molasses-sweet time (eight years, no less) to make this sophomore appearance with dream-pop dilettantes The Warm Inventions. To be fair, she has been suitably busy elsewhere - as recent confirmation of her guest appearance on Massive Attack’s upcoming fifth LP attests - and it’s equally hard to imagine fellow Warm Invention and My Bloody Valentine founder/drummer Colm Ó Cíosóig having had much free time of late, either.
As half of Mazzy Star, Hope Sandoval forged a sound so distinctive that even blatant imitators have had a hard time duplicating it. Adjectives abound when describing the band: ethereal, haunting, enchanting, airy, brooding, erotic… You get the picture. And while a large part of the band’s appeal was guitarist David Roback’s hazy, often erratic playing, there’s no doubt it was Sandoval’s voice that inspired many a listener to lay in bed at night, slack-jawed and spellbound.
With only four albums in two decades – two of them with the much-acclaimed Mazzy Star – and a handful of appearances with Massive Attack and the Chemical Brothers, Hope Sandoval isn't one to rush things or bow to conventional career schedules. However, this detached, languorous, almost otherworldly approach is crucial to her music. She makes gothic, bluesy slow-motion folk that seems to come from somewhere forever at dusk – or where the curtains are always drawn.
Hope Sandoval basically disappeared from the scene following the release of 2001's Bavarian Fruit Bread. That album's tender and spooky folk seemed like a nice beginning for her post-Mazzy Star career, and her musical partnership with ex-My Bloody Valentine drummer Colm O'Ciosoig promised more goodness to come. It wasn't to be, however, and it wasn't until 2009's Through the Devil Softly that the duo reappeared.
There’s something glacial about Hope Sandoval. Not just in terms of speed (this is the first Warm Inventions record in eight years; the Californian singer’s last album before that, [a]Mazzy Star[/a]’s ‘Among My Swan’, was in 1996) but inthe unhurried, implacable grace that lends her velvet-voiced gothic country laments such irresistible weight. [b]’Satellite'[/b] sounds like Billie Holiday’s final radio transmission to troubled earthlings from her home beyond the stars, the gentlest, most desultory of strums and glances of keys backing Hope’s vocal.
Listen to the staggering, dusty lope of "Trouble", and you might think you'd stumbled upon a lost Mazzy Star track from that band's peak in the mid-1990s. Which makes sense-- Hope Sandoval was the singer for Mazzy Star, and she keeps the aesthetic of that band very much alive in this, her second solo-ish effort since her old band stopped early this decade. Her accomplice in the absence of David Roback is My Bloody Valentine drummer Colm Ó Cíosóig, who essentially is the Warm Inventions, as was the case on their 2001 debut, Bavarian Fruit Bread.
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