Leeds’ ‘RealPolitik’ have been in operation for a few years now. Spearheaded by the multi-instrumental and arrangement skills of Richard Crossley and the pure vocals of Cleo Harratt, they’ve been quietly (and sometimes loudly, if the mood becomes them) making experimental music. Their previous EP, ‘And The Night Was All In Pieces’, appeared to have reduced the noise from their earlier recordings and placed more emphasis on Harratt as a frontwoman but the new album appears to have gone a step further to explore minimalist and classical influences.
The key elements of ‘White Noise…’ are Crossley’s “chill to the bone” stark piano, Harratt’s ever-haunted vocals and walls of atmospheric noise. Harratt impressed last year with her first solo album. That in itself was far removed from traditional female singer/songwriter fare but this new material makes her album seem like a collection of nursery rhymes such is the air of loneliness, mystery and paranoia within.
‘A Search Of Things Past’ brings in the static promised by the album title, offset by Harratt’s distant voice and Crossley’s meandering piano keys. Like much of the record, the tracks can be seen as experimental, semi-improvised pieces rather than actual songs. Yet there are moments of beauty, like when the unintelligible chatter of ‘Broken Images’ is stripped back to reveal some lovely strings whilst ‘Deserts (2nd Movement)’ and ‘Sonata II (For Prepared Piano)’ are serene examples of modern classical. The second half of proceedings is markedly bleaker and moodier with Harratt reduced to sporadic interjections; making it almost a Crossley solo affair.
‘The White Noise…’ as a whole is a sometimes elegant, often macabre listening experience which finds itself bookended between Dead Can Dance’s arcane wonder and Portishead at their most minimal. Its ideas are arguably stretched out for far too long over fifty minutes but the duo usually find the right balance between challenging and coherent music.
Dead Can Dance, Portishead, Joe Frawley