Imogen Heap - Ellipse CD Review - www.impulsegamer.com -
IMOGEN HEAP
Ellipse

 

Review Information

Reviewer: David Murcott
Review Date: November 2010

CD Information

Label: Sony

8.0

out of 10

 

 

Imogen Heapís most recent foray into the charts came, to the chagrin of many long-term fans, with the catchily inconsequential Whatcha Say.  The Ďduetí with RíníB artist Jason Durulo sampled liberally from Heapís best-known track Hide and Seek and took that songís chorus as its own, selling a lazy five million copies globally and topping charts on both sides of the Atlantic in the process. 

Itís a shame that Heapís most recent solo album, her third, didnít achieve the same measure of success.  Ellipse finds the alternative darling in fine fettle, and features the signature breathily vocodered vocals and subtly beguiling songwriting that brought Heap worldwide acclaim following the release of her previous album Speak For Yourself four or so years ago.  This time around, however, instrumentation features more prominently throughout and at times the songs are downright organic, resulting in an accessible sound that boasts a greater range of dynamics than has been the case on the singerís previous solo outings. 

Strings and keyboards peer out from between dense layers of vocals, and in places, as on the tender instrumental Canvas, orchestral arrangements swell to the fore with breathtaking precision.  The lyrics themselves are as emotionally expressive as ever, and conjure a poetic dreamscape in which, for instance, Ďclocks are barely breathingí and entire empires are constructed of childrenís building blocks.  Some reviewers have lamented of a focal point along the lines of Hide and Seek, but I think the album finds such a moment in ultimate track Half Life, a piano-driven ballad that features a poignant contralto melody and gently swelling, staccato string accompaniment.  With Heapís usual heaviliy-processed vocals largely absent, it proves both a well-chosen closing track and teasingly pared back moment of soul-baring intensity. The sublime Aha! is another standout, melding stream of consciousness lyrical motifs to a soaring vocal hook that ultimately crashes up against frantic cello lines. 

Thereís a lot going on here, and as is usually the case with any Imogen Heap release thereís much to take in; complex arrangements, contrarian melodies, opaque lyrical themes.  But itís a fascinating and rewarding journey, and one with which the indie songstress cements her place as one of the finest female songwriters of the present day.






 
 



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