The Immoralist (Drag City)
Elisa Ambrogio, better known for fronting the jam-rock outfit Magik Markers, is no stranger to making some serious noise. If you’ve ever caught a Markers show, you’ll have been subjected to the heady mix of feedback and distortion that Ambrogio seems to revel in so readily. So, you could be forgiven for expecting her solo album to be along the same lines. But you’d be wrong. The Immoralist sees Ambrogio embracing her more contemplative side in creating an album that has, at its heart, a tender touch.
The album has much in common with Andre Gide’s 1902 book of the same name, which is undoubtedly its namesake, in that they both deal with introspection and self discovery, and in Ambrogio’s album, these two emotive forces combine with emotionally explosive results.
The opening track ‘Superstitious’ weaves subtle tones of guitar and soft synths as Ambrogio confesses “I get superstitious when it comes to you and me”, bearing her soul to an unidentified lover. Tracks like ‘Reservoir’ continue this trend, steeping their own sound in ethereal tones that wash over the immersive vocal line leaving you feeling the need to come up for air. ‘Kylie’ combines Ambrogio’s free form vocals and a cello to devastating effect, sounding like a long lost Patti Smith track.
Despite having favoured a more down-tempo aesthetic compared to her previous output, the spirit of Magik Markers does make an appearance, manifesting itself in tracks like ‘Mary Perfectly’ and ‘Stopped Clocks’ which blaze a trail of frenetic energy in their wake that seems, at times, unstoppable. But it’s the softer side that wins out in the end, and it’s Ambrogio’s confessional tone that runs throughout the album and makes The Immoralist such a captivating listen.
The Immoralist is out on 21 October on Drag City.