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8th October 2009

Nina Walsh Releases Bright Lights & Filthy Nights

Out 26 October 2009

From making and releasing seminal techno records throughout the 90s on Sabrettes to outlandish industrial noise experimentations on her own C-Pij imprint, devilish break infestations as Slab alongside the Drum Club’s Lol Hammond and vocal collaborations with Andrew Weatherall and Keith Tenniswood’s Two Lone Swordsmen and Alex Paterson’s Root Masters, Nina Walsh’s ‘Bright Lights & Filthy Nights’ may come as a bit of a surprise to some. With a voice fused with emotional introspection, Nina has produced a cohesive and beautifully balanced album that evokes the spirit of folk femme fatale’s such as Lisa Hannigan, Francoise Hardey and Martha Wainwright.

One voice plus acoustic stringed instrument is one of the oldest musical combinations on the planet, used by anyone from troubadours to aural insurrectionists to create a mood or tell a story since time immemorial. Having delved with vengeful passion into a variety of musical styles since the early 90s, Nina Walsh has now alighted on this most basic of forms, using it to construct her own unique world in a hallucinogenic bed of subtle electronic undergrowth and insidious melodic flourishes.

Although Nina started her musical journey with four years learning Spanish guitar beginning at the age of 13, it’s a bit of a contrast to her recorded debut as a member of the Rabettes, a one-off tribal techno project which made one 12-inch called ‘Bunny New Guinea-Pig’, released on Sabrettes, the label she started as a sister imprint to Andrew Weatherall’s legendary Sabres Of Paradise, which she co-ran.

After overseeing a barrage of seminal techno of both labels, Nina formed a big beat sleaze assault called Slab with Lol Hammond from the Drum Club, who released two albums on Hydrogen Jukebox. She then appeared on two tracks on The Orb’s Cydonia album [‘Ghost Dancing’ and ‘Plum Island’], more recently participating in the Root Masters project with Dr Alex Paterson. Nina has also set up her own C-Pij imprint, releasing the Wah/Fuzz/Swell album among other outings and collaborations, including Biomuse.

This new album is her most personal yet, both intimate and other-worldy, underpinned with a gamut of emotions and a healthy dose of Nina’s humour. A mostly self-produced piece with further production input from drummer Erick Legrand of Camden industrial noise outfit Headcleaner (who has also played drums for The Screaming Blue Messhias and toured with Young Gods, Jesus Lizard and Mudhoney to name a few....) and Spooky’s Charlie May, Nina Walsh strips her music down to the raw essentials. The haunting ‘Sweetest Cure’ wafts in on a bed of flute-y tones intertwining with Nina’s guitar and classically trained Audrey Riley’s cello, one of the album’s defining sounds. The psychedelic undertow of this track, appealingly-vulnerable love song ‘Sail’ and gorgeous ‘Maybe’ [complete with gargling rabbit chorus and theremin-like melodies] recall anything from 60s underground acid-folk mavericks like Pearls Before Swine to the log-cabin confessionals of Bon Iver as gentle melodies sigh and fizz in the distance while Nina displays her deceptively-strong, lived-through voice. ‘Storms’, sung with Gareth Thomas, conjures an autumnal feel with Audrey’s cello and subtle electronic swells, somewhat recalling John Cale’s work with Nico in the late 60s. Reference points can be a bit silly but this album does evoke some of that period’s overlooked but highly-influential artists. ‘I Believed In You’ is another atmospheric soundscape topped with eerie sci-fi melodies and heavily-treated vocals, a disembodiedly beautiful feel continued with the deep cello heaves and subtly-shifting electronic melodies of ‘Narcissist’.

Changing mood again, ‘Bright Lights And Filthy Nights’ is a catchy, lyrically-poignant slice of urban folk, then offset by the mischievous whoopee of ‘Love Leech’, helped by Max Garrett. One of the highlights is ‘Industrial Folk’, a collaboration with Spooky’s Charlie May which charts similar hallucino-folk terrain to Tim Buckley’s Goodbye And Hello with its shimmering textures and marimba tones. After the brief, John Fahey bounce of ‘No Deliverance’, the defiant, spirit-hoisting ’Strong’ steams in, boasting an air-punching chorus which would be a worldwide smash if Oasis had done it [coming with whirring swamp-gas bonus remix]. The album goes out with the gentle ‘Goodnight My Sweet’, which sends the album out on a rippling bed of swirling textures and baroque subtleties.

The main thing which comes over here is the personality and panoramic musical visions of a wonderful, restless spirit, hopping from mood to mood like the rabbits she loves.

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