Chelsea Wolfe – Abyss

Chelsea Wolfe - AbyssThe album sleeve to drone-folk singer songwriter Chelsea Wolfe’s new album Abyss bears a strong visual connection to Millais’ Ophelia. Much like Ophelia lies in the river before drowning beneath the water, Wolfe lies dormant within a vacuous black space, appearing defeated and vacant, slowly succumbing to the pull of the void surrounding her. It’s an austere, haunting depiction of Wolfe’s characteristically funereal soundscapes, and emblematic of the more personal, self-indicting lyrical content on Abyss.

Wolfe’s last record, Pain Is Beauty, eschewed the cavernous atmospheres and primal instrumentation of her most distinctive output for cold, calculated electronic hums more akin to a record by The Knife. Abyss, however, serves as the perfect marriage between these two core characteristics of her aesthetic. Tracks like the harrowing "Grey Days" transmit Wolfe’s intimate lyrics through the record’s vast sonic hollows, where gnarling bass and chilling, mutated cries echo and reverberate through Abyss’ massive scope. Wolfe’s music has always appreciated and nurtured the power of cinematic cues and moods to create compelling musical narratives (as evidenced by her vivid music videos, and 2014 Ingmar Bergman-esque short film Lone), and with Abyss, it’s clear that her music has been sized-up for maximum silver screen potential.

The visceral personal details and graphic authenticity of the singer-songwriter are characteristics which Wolfe has been adopting more and more into her art as of late. Abyss marks an emotional lull in her career, acting as the tumultuous aftermath of Pain Is Beauty, channelling the viciousness of her early output, but feeling especially singular. As the odd-one-out in her catalogue, Abyss is Wolfe’s most emotionally direct, with unequivocal mourns for lost lovers summoning the titular abyss and beckoning its maw with each overcast delivery. Until finally, you are swallowed, and subjected to the nightmare Wolfe describes in "Simple Death", where you are screaming, but you can’t wake up.

Release: 7th August 2015, Sargent House

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