Dave spends Psychodrama addressing issues caused by the generations who came before him. The album also sees the former computer engineer tinkering with the central marker of her craft: her wafting vapor trail of a voice.
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Angel Olsen’s Songs Made People Cry. Lark” immediately sets the vast, immersive stage for the entire album—the powerful drums and the rising tension of the swirling piece-string orchestra erupt into one of the biggest musical climaxes in music this year, all the while Olsen is delivering a hair-raising vocal performance throughout the entirety of the song. The title track folds dark synth-pop and new-wave into the mix of the record and drags listeners into a psychedelic unraveling of self.
On Lark” she does just the same, always taking her vocal parts to places both unexpected and sublime. At times it feels as though she’s trying on different characters, using her voice to be one person one minute, another the next. She starts in the vein of Ella Fitzgerald; by the chorus she’s trying on an Elvis impersonation for size; at the bridge, she’s Dolly Parton singing down a telephone line.
Angel Olsen made her debut on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon in a crown, busting out a jaw-dropping performance of All Mirrors,” the title track to her excellent new album.
Prog-rock icon Jon Anderson and the Taiwanese psych band Prairie WWWW contribute to ‘śSugar Foot,’ť a mile-a-minute frenzy of a song. Though Anderson’s singing is a tad anonymous, his vocals are smartly processed and buried in the mix. It evokes Nikola Tesla’s ghost watching the assembly line at a Foxconn plant, with ethereal chants duking it out with the synths for supremacy. The final section matches a breakneck drum part by Stanier with some incantatory singing by Anderson, like the Koyaanisqatsi soundtrack played at triple speed. The track is one of the better examples of Williams and Stanier’s compositional skills, as they blend a range of disparate sounds together into something truly ethereal.
Back at the coffee shop the next morning, Olsen is distracted and stressed out. She had to do a last-minute phone interview with an Italian journalist before our meeting, and it’s looking like our planned trip to the Art Institute of Chicago isn’t going to pan out. Instead, we’re going shopping for clothes for a video shoot the day after tomorrow, though she isn’t allowed to tell me anything about it. I feel bad; her trip to Chicago was originally supposed to be a personal one to see old friends. Now it has been ambushed by phone interviews, this music video, and me.
There’s no resignation or frustration in Olsen’s voice: talking to me over the phone from her home in North Carolina, she’s warm but matter-of-fact about it. Even among her fans — and journalists, judging by some of the writing about Olsen — there’s a lot of different ideas around her music, coming to a head with 2016’s My Woman, an album quickly contextualised within the year’s hot feminist topics.
Sadly, there’s nothing on Fear Inoculum’Š as immediately accessible or anthemic as past Tool glories like ‘śSober’ť or ‘śThe Pot,’ť but what is here will reward repeated spins, even if listeners initially find themselves waiting for those mammoth riffs to show up, a la ‘ś7empest,’ť or for Maynard to finally kick into high gear, as in the rousing refrain of ‘śDescending.’ť Sure, the quasi-ballad ‘śCulling Voices’ť feels plodding and overlong, and the album’s brief instrumental interludes (‘śLitanie Contre la Peur,’ť ‘śLegion Inoculant’ť) and musique concrĂ¨te pieces (‘śChocolate Chip Trip,’ť ‘śMockingbeat’ť) offer little more than inscrutability for inscrutability’s sake. But if nothing else, Tool deserves some credit for releasing an album as challenging and incrementally rewarding as Fear Inoculum’Š.
The worst thing I can say about All Mirrors is some of its tracks fall short of the standards set by the rest of the album. Compared to their peers, the likes of Tonight” and Impasse” are slightly lacking. Not that I think that will be a common consensus. This seems like the kind of album where favorite tracks will vary depending on the listener. Practically all of them hold their own and offer something unique.
One aspect of All Mirrors that really stands out are the expansive and spooky string arrangements. Olsen recently told Billboard that they were inspired in part by the late Scott Walker ‘s unique brand of avant-garde pop Olsen recruited string arrangers Jherek Bischoff and Ben Babbitt to help her achieve the expansive soundscape she was looking for.
Olsen’s flight is both upward and inward. Olsen’s artistic beginnings as a collaborator shifted seamlessly to her magnificent, cryptic-to-cosmic solo work, and then she formed bands to play her songs, and her stages and audiences grew exponentially. But all along, Olsen was more concerned with a different kind of path, and on her vulnerable, Big Mood new album, All Mirrors, we can see her taking an introspective deep dive towards internal destinations and revelations. In the process of making this album, she found a new sound and voice, a blast of fury mixed with hard won self-acceptance.
Those who know Olsen from the stripped-down intimacy of Burn Your Fire For No Witness ( Unfucktheworld” ) may be startled by the near-Björkian-grandeur on display here — although her 2016 My Woman clearly showed an artist whose trajectory had yet to be fully measured. Here, songs alternate vast orchestral landscapes with similarly-cinematic band tracks, Olsen’s distressed alto moving from shivering whisper to piercing wail and back again.
Angel Olsen has already shared the title song from her forthcoming full-length, All Mirrors, and today, she reveals the album’s opening track with the music video to “Lark.” In the clip, Olsen explores every element of nature: air, fire, earth, and water.
Ever since 1996’s Ă†nima, Tool has been expanding their sonic palette to include extended instrumental passages, odd time signatures, and lyrics that touch on concepts like Zen Buddhism and Jungian psychology. And these progressive tendencies have reached their zenith on Fear Inoculum; all of its tracks with vocals exceed the 10-minute mark and largely eschew traditional ‘śrock’ť songwriting for more downbeat arrangements and exotic, laidback grooves. Drummer Danny Carey is arguably the album’s MVP, coloring the proceedings with complex polyrhythms and a diverse array of percussion.
Olsen wrote “Lark” about the verbal abuse she has endured in relationships — when she quietly sings that “the way you scream like something else is the matter” before “Lark” explodes into relief, the “scream” is not metaphor. “Lark” sounds fittingly monumental in response, a tornado amassing speed. “I used to let everyone make me feel small,” Olsen has said “But I can’t do that anymore. You will see my rage.” In her lyrics, Olsen refuses to sweep the transgressions under the rug; the clenching power of her voice cuts a swarm of strings like a knife, like a bird clipping through fog. To neglect the details, she seems to suggest, would be to disrespect love as a concept entirely.
The album’s remaining tracks showcase the incredible versatility of Olsen’s voice, from whispery falsetto to husky and sonorous belt. Although Olsen begins to incorporate more conventional harmonies and upbeat tempi, the rich instrumental layers prevent any song from veering too far into the realm of pop. Instead, Olsen’s eclectic blend of elements from different genres results in a sound all her own.
Her fourth album All Mirrors is similarly unpredictable, although no less intriguing. The press release sees her describe it as about owning up to your darkest side, finding the capacity for new love and trusting change, even when you feel like a stranger”. That sense of vulnerability is strewn brazenly throughout her lyrics.
The Chromatics have always looked to the cinematic past through an apocalyptic lens. Jewel is deeply influenced by classic horror film scores by composers such as John Carpenter, Tim Krog, Charles Bernstein, and Angelo Badalamenti. The group’s nostalgia trips continue on Closer to Grey: The musical DNA from the soundtrack to Halloween can be heard in the slinking piano of ‘śWhispers in the Hall,’ť while the textures of ‘śLove Theme from Closer to Grey’ť similarly harken back to the grainy aesthetic of horror films from the 1970s and ‘80s.
The song was named Best New Track” by Pitchfork in its review. Angel Olsen is a master of shifting our perception of her. … Some of Olsen’s songs feel like they’ve always existed … but ‘All Mirrors’ is mostly alien”, said the magazine.
There are stretches of the bass-driven opening track, ‘śAmbulance,’ť that suggest the soundtrack to a podcast about Theranos before shifting into a screechy, cyberpunkish second movement. Guitarist-keyboardist Ian Williams and drummer John Stanier eventually blend those two sonic ideas together as the song builds to its climax. The track’s distinct parts represent a microcosm of the album’s ethos: Every song features a plethora of ideas that, when it works, the band manages to weave together into a unified whole, with no gesture wasted.
The staircase was the challenge. “Angel knew that she wanted a staircase,” Connor says; the director knew she couldn’t fake one. “You were losing sleep at night, like, ‘I need to find a staircase for this fucking video!'” Olsen laughs. Ultimately, they found some fans who worked in construction and were willing to build the staircase for cost: problem solved. “Ashley sent me a video of them building the staircase in the studio, listening to my record. She was like, ‘Things are going really well today. Your fans are insane!'” Olsen recalls.
There’s nothing here quite so immediately hooky as her 2016 Elvis-via- Patti Smith conjuring Shut Up, Kiss Me.” But Olsen’s up to something different here, inviting a different sort of attention to fully absorb. It’s worth the investment; the emotion’s as visceral as it is complex, and it ranks among the best sounding records this year, deserving to be cranked on a good sound system — an album to spend time with, to fall into, to shut up and let yourself be kissed by.
All Mirrors isn’t an indie rock album. It’s too rich and lush and open. Its scope is too big. It demands to be heard in concert halls with ornate domes and tapestries and shit. None of the possible reference points are quite right, but All Mirrors will send you scrambling for classics to come up with any kind of sonic precedent: Early-’70s Scott Walker, Berlin-era Bowie, scores for mid-period Kubrick movies. It’s a thick, heady, transporting piece of music.
Now that October is upon us and our days of sun are numbered, let’s take a moment to bow our heads and thank Angel Olsen. With her fifth album, All Mirrors, the singer-songwriter has produced the ideal soundtrack for the rich, gloom-soaked days of autumn. All Mirrors is ambitious and winding. It unfolds in acts, like a grand opera. Multiple tracks feature expansive string accompaniments, and Olsen’s register jumps from eerie serenade to full-on scream. The lyrics reveal Olsen’s inner meditations on age, ambition, love and loss.
In 2013 Olsen added bassist Stewart Bronaugh and drummer Josh Jaeger to pad out her live stripped back sound whilst bringing a rocky element as she toured nationwide. Later that year Olsen signed to the label Jagjaguwar home to the likes of Bon Iver, Love Life and Dinosaur Jr. The following year she released her second album Burn Your Fire for No Witness” offering a deeper expression of emotions and creating that heartfelt connection which she does so well. Having the addition of Jaeger and Bronaugh both on the record and in a live capacity provided a heavy almost grunge element reflected in tracks such as Stars” and Hi-Five” whilst maintaining the enchantingly dreamy nature about Angel Olsen.
Jherek and John Congelton are old school pals. Jherek had been working on something for Iggy Pop or somebody… he’s always flying to Switzerland to work on different theatre projects. He was in a rock and roll band and one day he had this epiphany and he decided to pursue composing, and he’s fucking great at it. As I started to work with Jherek I realised I needed his bold ideas to be a part of this project. When we recorded ‘Lark’ it was one of the last tracks we did, and I was so nervous, thinking, ‘How are we going to make this song a string song? I just don’t understand, I don’t hear it’. And he knocked it out of the park. It’s just insane.
It’s an early August evening in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. A brief thunderstorm had burst not 30 minutes before Olsen and I meet, leaving the chairs in the backyard of this bar pretty wet. Olsen, with her hair falling loose from a big, bouffant-y bun done up for a video interview recorded earlier that day, took the bottom of her striped linen dress and wiped off a seat, so my skirt wouldn’t get too damp while we discussed death, love and her striking fourth studio album, All Mirrors.
Opening and closing with two six-minute theatrical epics, Angel Olsen’s fourth album ‘All Mirrors’ is cocooned in pensivity and self-reflection. Even if you’re not into folksy rock music, you must see Angel Olsen. Holy fuck. She is the bomb.
On the set of Olsen’s All Mirrors” video shoot in Brooklyn, Ashley Connor — the collaborator from that barn shoot seven years earlier — stood in the cool, darkened studio, setting up a key shot, in which Olsen would rise up into a room full of mirrors and smoke, passing one reflection after another, her image refracted and multiplied dramatically. The entire shoot had been scheduled for a single day, and the crew was moving from task to task with unflagging intensity, approaching the midpoint of a 15-hour shift. In the adjacent studio, techs were breaking down an ethereal white staircase that Olsen descended earlier in a glittering, sage green Gucci gown, shaggy with tassels. At one point, the staircase had been canceled for budget reasons, but some local carpenters, who happened to be Angel Olsen fans, volunteered to build it at cost.
All Mirrors is out worldwide on October 4 on Jagjaguwar. Pre Orders from the Secretly Store come on exclusive opaque aquamarine vinyl. The Jagjaguawar limited and exclusive bundle includes the aquamarine vinyl and the All Mirrors 7″ on silver and black splatter vinyl. The 7″ includes two versions of the album’s title track: All Mirrors” album version and We Are All Mirrors” solo version.
Orchestras are indie rock’s new Marshall stacks. That’s fitting on a lot of levels — as a satisfying class-action appropriation of elitist cultural tropes, as a deconstruction of those same tropes, and as an elevation of collectivism over American myths of individualism and exceptionalism that’ve lately been twisted into such ugly shapes. Also: done right, orchestrations just sound dope. There’s plenty of ‘em done right on Angel Olsen ‘s latest, All Mirrors, her best record yet in an excellent ouevre, giving her goth-folk drama queen tendencies room to roam far and wide.
What is All Mirrors, then? To start with the facts, it’s eleven tracks, built up from acoustic versions — Olsen’s original plan was to have a dopplegänger album alongside the originals. But she landed somewhere different after re-recording them: the All Mirrors we have is opulent yet eerie, with opener ‘Lark’ keeping its 11-piece orchestra, as the Guardian note , on the constant verge of dissonance”.
Angel Olsen (born January 22, 1987) is an American singer-songwriter and musician from St. Louis, Missouri who currently lives in Asheville, North Carolina. Her music contains elements of traditional folk and indie rock. She has recorded and toured as a backing singer with Bonnie Prince” Billy and the Cairo Gang, before embarking on her own career.
Angel: What have you learned about the stages of love and how did they inspire this record? How is your heart now? I’ve been trying to take it slowly.
As is the inclination when confronted with any powerful artist, especially one who articulates emotion so clearly, people want to categorically understand Angel Olsen. Don’t fall into that trap. If you approach this album like another piece in the Angel Olsen puzzle, you won’t get far. In Olsen’s own words , this is an album about changing.” Open yourself up to change, and enjoy the psychic ride of All Mirrors.
Angel Olsen is funny and acerbic and she’s dramatic in this casual way. It’s like, she doesn’t get why everyone won’t just let her have her drama. She tells me she does all this press because she wants to talk about her music, but also because she loves to dress up. Don’t you just wanna wake up and dress up sometimes?” she asks. When I run out of clothes or laundry, sometimes I wear a lot of makeup and put on my nicest dress, ’cause it’s the only one that’s clean. And everyone’s like, ‘Why do you look so good today?’ Because I didn’t do my laundry! Why can’t I just have that day, or that kind of experience in my life… performance – the way I play music? She ends most of her thoughts with, You know what I mean?” Like she wants to be understood.