The fact that both classical piano and avant-garde metal have featured in Leah Hinton’s past comes as little surprise when you listen to the first full blown Murmur Tooth album. It’s not an obvious thing but it might account for the fact that the album is on the one hand peppered with a sense of flowing grace, minimalism and intricacy, on the other drama, drive and dynamic. And the fact that it can even leap effortlessly and seamlessly between the two, even within the space of one song, also shows what a deft arranger Leah is.
And apart from that broad brushstroke reference, genres are out of the window really, not just because the songs found here are fluid and changeable, wonderfully elusive when it comes to musical taxonomy, but because the album as a whole seems to revel in building, inhabiting and discarding genres of its own making as the mood takes it.
Weak Knees is a good place to start, and to say that it isn’t representative of the album as a whole is valid, in that there is no one song which you could use as a musical handle anyway. It takes on the form of a sort of gothic, musical hall chorus line, a bit like Cabaret being adapted for a small theatre in the second circle of hell, the one between the Kitchen of Souls and the J.D. Sports outlet. Rain Rain is a gorgeously drifting blend of floating voices, bar room piano and emotive cellos, Early Train wanders into chanson territory, moving, and full of mood and mystique and When Girls Read Vampire Novels sounds like a gothic Bat For Lashes, something that I didn’t realise that I needed in my life and that I realise that I can’t live without.
A Fault in This Machine is such an eclectic and ethereal mix that it almost warrants a description of every track but these are the sort of songs which are going to mean something different to every listener and besides, no one has written a track-by-track review outside local journalism since 1958. The point I’m getting at is, more than any other album I have heard in a while, this demands that you just go and listen, no amount of blathering on my part can actually come close to how great it actually is. So go and do that. Now!
I’m serious, do it now!
Are you still here? You’d better not be.