I’m not normally a particularly nostalgic person when it comes to music, far happier to explore the “what next” than the “back in the day.” But there is something beating at the heart of Rachel Mason’s latest album that we don’t seem to encounter much in the contemporary music scene. But then it is more than just the sound; it is an approach, an attitude that directs the creative process. Alongside the actual sonic qualities there are elements drawn from theatre, cabaret, film score and more than a touch of Avant-gardening.
It comes as no surprise then that along side the making of music, 13 albums to date, Mason is also a filmmaker, animator, puppeteer, writer and holographer and it is tempting to think that there is more than a small element of artistic bleed at work as one discipline informs and affects the next. Woe betide the person who tries to compile a Venn diagram to explain the intricate relationships between her various art attacks.
It is easy to spot that same theatrical thread that ran through The Banshees dark visions or Kate Bush’s scene driven narratives, Nick Cave’s apocalyptic parables or Patti Smith’s performance poetry. But anyone can be non-conformist; the art is having an alternative set of rules to build with rather than just a nihilistic absence of ideas. And Rachel Mason is nothing if not full of original ideas and uses them to sculpt a soundscape that wanders between alternative-pop, post punk weirdness, staccato indie and a pretty much post-everything style.
It’s always refreshing to come across and artist who has a “if you can’t join them, beat them” attitude, not that I imagine Rachel Mason ever joined anything in her life. Kookiness, it would seem, is next to godliness!