Life on Earth

Despite having recently obtained not one, but two, calendars to aid me in my time management, Tuesday has again become Wednesday without notice.  So, this week, what is rapidly becoming Tapes on Twednesday shares with you, or perhaps introduces, Tiny Vipers (aka Jesy Fortino) and her new record Life on Earth released on July 7th 2009.

Flicking through the Belfast Telegraph whilst visiting in September, I noticed that Tiny Vipers, with whom I had become acquainted by way of ‘On This Side,’ a song from her previous release Hands Across the Void, was playing at the Black Box in the heart of Belfast’s emerging Cathedral Quarter.  Quaint in its monochrome modernity, with an array of matchless furniture, the occasional whiff of fresh coffee, and drifting scent of heavy metal, a free gig could scarcely have been better.  After what one must politely term a disappointing supporting act,  Tiny Vipers sidled onto the stage, perched delicately on the stool, began to pick out a melody, and, eyes closed, captivated the audience to silence within a couple of bars.  Needless to say, I bought the record on the way out of the door.

The concert had much the same effect as the album, in which the songs smoothly and unnoticeably merge into one another.  Opening ‘Eyes Like Ours’ with the words ‘do you recall when the world was still young?  Just a small town…I heard that you walked across its borders into the unknown,’ it would have been difficult to express my sentiments about this record more exactly than by that very description, and with ‘eyes full of wonder’ I continued, entranced.  ‘Development’ follows with delightful cadence and rhythmic picking, curiously juxtaposed with the destructive drive of the lyrics.  ‘Slow Motion’ first hints at the potential for harshness in Fortino’s tone, only to find the track easing itself into its place, followed by the earnest existentialism of ‘Dreamer’.  Recalling Virginia Woolf’s The Waves in asking ‘what can we learn when we can’t understand?’ it  ends like a modernist novel.  ‘Time Takes’ and ‘Young God’ are not as noticeable, but neither are they out of place preceding the epic ‘Life on Earth’.  If Patti Smith wrote poetic or dramatic theory, it would sound like this.  ‘CM,’ ‘Tiger Mountain’, and ‘Twilight Property’ all appear to draw on the American folk tradition, with their eerie native harmonies and haunting echoes.  Aptly concluding with ‘Outside’, Tiny Vipers asserts that the problem with life is you can’t do it twice, and with this record, she doesn’t need to.

Please support Tiny Vipers by going to see her on tour, and by buying her merchandise here.  Also, become a fan and get updates on Facebook.

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