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Ana Da Silva | The Lighthouse (Chicks On Speed Records)
Ana Da Silva was in The Raincoats. Their blend of swampy, yet perfectly simple blues-folk was overwhelmingly endearing. This solo album has the former member using only a mini-keyboard and sequencer to create all the songs played on the album, and it's massive in scale.

As it opens there are strong overtones of Bjork's more recent atmospherics; clicking drums, rolling bells and choral crescendos, composed to rousing effect before turning to the shade and becoming a darker prospect, Two Windows Over the Wings could come from a Residents album, offering deranged female singing/talking as electronic bass-lines plod and whirl in bizarre arrangements. Yet despite tonal warmth of the synthetic instruments, there's an emptiness within the songs, the melodies are desperate, putting the emphasis on Da Silva's unusual singing, with its awkward syntax and delivery, feminine grace is contrasted with an evident dependency syndrome to create an effect that is completely mesmerising.

As the album evolves, the arrangements become the musical focus, growing and deepening, they begin to envelop as the vocal melodies subside in impact, Modhina has a lavish cinematic feel as harmoniums tremble with Parisian romance over bass end pianos.  

Apart from the tongue in cheek reprise of I'm In Awe Of Painting ("I like making cups of tea/And dancing to this song"), 'The Lighthouse' continues its path of predatory female rasps and bubbled electronics. An album with an apparently cold heart, warmth occasionally seeps out through a clattering tambourine or Da Silva's own resigned sighs, and whereas some of the choral arrangements do occasionally recall the blandness of Enya, repeated listens will definitely reward.

Jonathan Falcone
February-April 2005