Alien – Norrisette (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

If someone was going to write music that would chime perfectly with my current tastes, then it wouldn’t sound radically different to the beautiful and beguiling sounds that Norrisette conjures up. If at all. Back in the heady days of post-punk when synths were new and samples were just about imaginable on the technological horizon, and troglodytic music fans were banging out sentiments that anything not made by “real” instruments wasn’t even proper music, I was quietly cheer-leading the weird and wonderful sounds being made by ex-punks as they rewired broken keyboards and turned them to their will.

Fast forward half a lifetime and artists like Norrisette are making the music that I was always waiting for. Music which mixes atmospheric emptiness with dance beats, which like a watercolour painter understands the power of the negative space of the unadorned canvas. Music which, apart from a slender line which connects people such as Moon and Pollution to Bat For Lashes and obviously to Kate Bush, has been far too fleeting.

Alien is a sonic journey, or more properly a journey described through sonics, one which starts in outer space and gradually closes in on this planet and its sparse and otherworldly sounds prove to be the perfect medium. Not Fair offers the most upbeat moments, burbling beats breaking out into euphoric energy before being subsumed beneath breathy vocals and chiming shards of music and then meandering between the two to great dynamic effect.

Android Jenny is a gorgeously off-kilter collage of sounds, drifting between clinical cool and perfectly underplayed industrial oddness. The wonderfully named Planet Earth Viewed From The Moon again challenges our idea of what a song might be, hanging drifting vocals on ever changing tones and textures, the sparse beat being the only thing tethering the music to anything that resembles song structure. Permission To Land resolves the e.p. with something more familiar, relatively speaking, a gentle dream-pop shimmer flowing over punctuating bass lines and some of the most gorgeous vocal deliveries you will have heard in a long time.

Norrisette makes music according to her own plan. You will hear the occasional familiar move or outsider groove but Alien, like 2020 before it, seems to really begin a new chapter in pursuing pop’s potential. The music is fragile almost to the point of being shattered at times, is the most delicate of sonic creatures yet is often robust and energetic.

Don’t you love it when music both confounds and exceeds your expectations?

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