ALBUM REVIEW: Inge Thomson “Shipwrecks & Static”

Label: Navigator
Release Date: 10.05.2010

The debut solo album from the Fare Isle’s own Inge Thomson is something very individual and very distinctive. Be warned – not everyone is going to like “Shipwrecks & Static”.

On her own website the new release is explained as “an eccentric marriage between melodic instruments and the bleeps and squeaks of electronic tomfoolery“, and there is a curiosity (almost a worry) whether Thomson manages to balance such differing strands.

‘Fighting Song’, ‘Where Do I Sign’ and ‘Girl With The Swan’s Head’, are all prime examples of tracks where this balance isn’t quite right. The vocals are distinct and softly melodic, only adding weight to offset the balance. In particular ‘Fighting Song’ sounds like a clash between the soundtrack of  “Vanilla Sky” and a drinking song, whilst ‘Girl With The Swan’s Head’ certainly has potential bar the electronica breakdowns which may be too progressive and in some ways too disjointed.

The above said, this album has some true highlights in the form of the poem ‘Cradle Song’ originally written by Louis MacNeice, again with beautiful vocals centre stage. The balance which Thomson battles to hold throughout the album, is perfect in this track, the melody and the electronic accents do not overpower each other, completely in harmony for just over three blissful minutes. Originally composed in 1940 by MacNeice following frictions he experienced with his then lover Eleanor Clark, and the political tensions of the era, the work Thomson has put into this is unquestionably invigorating. ‘John’, with it’s sea shanty air, also hits the nail on the head. From start to finish there is something quite pleasant and jovial about the whole track.

Overall the album is distinct in it’s progressive usage of electronics, but the beautiful harmonies and melodies that Thomson’s work realises and develops are marginalised unfortunately. The real shame is that some tracks find that balance and Inge Thomson is definitely on our radar for the future!

Rating: 2/5
Reviewer: Constantinos Kypridemos

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