Album Review: Jet Black Raider
Anna Meredith pushes sound to exciting places. The Scottish composer has written music for opera, collaborated with a beatboxer, and wrote a piece titled Handsfree in which she directed the talented musicians of Great Britain’s National Youth Orchestra to perform with their instruments resting at their sides. She also makes electronic music, taking her imaginative sounds from the concert hall to your headphones. KRCU’s Jason Brown has this review of her latest EP, titled Jet Black Raider.
If curiosity were a problem that could be solved, I think that Anna Meredith would be uniquely capable of coming up with the formula. There’s something extraordinarily rigorous and practiced about her music, but it’s the sense of play is what’s overwhelming and wonderful.
This EP, like her prior, titled Black Prince Fury is a 20-minute dose, but it’s a packed 20 minutes with much to ponder, memorize, and anticipate. Giving this music your full attention is exhausting, but in a rewarding way, as if you should be proud you listened to something. There’s a track titled “Orlok,” like the vampire in the film Nosferatu. Unlike the film it’s far from silent, and doesn’t sound colorless; there’s a kaleidoscope of sprites that sift through. But it does maintain that film’s ominous vibe. It’s at times unsettling, like when electronic voices accompany a dying Atari’s final moments.
The glorious conclusion is a cover of Erasure’s “A Little Respect.” The 80’s pop hit is reworked and looped around to be nearly unrecognizable. It contains a rare appearance of prominent vocals from Meredith. Her performance here has the quality of an artificial intelligence taught pop music and given a word-bank that describes human emotion. This paradoxically gives it a complex emotional quality, making many of today’s pop-stars sound like the thoughtless mimics.
It’s thrilling that music like this is being made. Genuine surprises are a bit rare these days, and you’re in a rut, sonic or otherwise, Anna Meredith just might pull you out.
Anna Meredith's Jet Black Raider is out now on Moshi Moshi Records.