Arrica Rose's latest, Wavefunction, finds her more unidentifiable than ever, though I still cleave to my Laura Nyro comparative as a decent entry point. That's an odd situation, though, as her work is quite familiar, almost antiquated, a holdover from the 60s even though she's nowhere near old enough to hold that as a generative function in real time. And like some LPs of the day, she's issued this album as a two-sided experiment in mood and coloration. Side 1 is very narratively based, the music subordinated to the stories, California on Repeat the best example, but you'd be hard put to find that earlier decade's slabs sounding like this despite the Tijuana Brass undertones in Harry Kim's trumpet work.
More, Rose not only sings and plays guitar but also slings the odd Omnichord, an old Suzuki instrument (now out of production, as far as I know) electronically taking the place of an Americana standard: the autoharp, in this incarnation melded with a Korg-y/Casio-esque cheap synth. The resulting sound, though, is akin to the ethereality of a celeste/celesta, pretty damned cool actually. Kim re-enters in Rose's take on Roy Orbison's In Dreams, he echoic while she seems a quaaluded Patsy Cline, the song more than a little reminiscent of the deliciously horripilating Blue Velvet gig with Julee Cruise. So, do I like it? I love it.
And I'm not so sure the two song-side aggregates are all that dissimilar, as Safety Pin follows faithfully and ambiently upon In Dreams, though in far more 4AD-ish fashion, a weeper inviting Orbison to inspect his motives. Side 2 (per the CD, that is; the LP version will claim no Side 1 or Side 2) is actually a progression more like a concept theme, falling into lethe and incipient nightmare from the waking world. Favorite track? That turning point, Shallow End, a cut Nico would've sung had she been human, though Cut It Out, my second fave, has Rose strikingly close to Martha Bates (and the strings in it are perfect). If Arrica doesn't watch out, she'll one day be a Dory Previn overseen by Harold Budd.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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