Wed Aug 20
One of my favorite movies, a contemporary Japanese film called All About Lily Chou-Chou, hinges its plot around the concept of "Ether." In the film, "Ether" is meant to describe a boundary-free space, like the internet--and more specifically, a heavenly, figurative place, where the music of Lily Chou-Chou transports the film's characters away from the psychological and physical danger of their everyday lives. Cinematically, the Ether is depicted by a green, lush field, where puffy clouds lope over the velvet leaves of grass.
This is the same place the music of Jessica Peters, aka Petracovich, seeks to transport the listener, and for the most part, she gets us there. In ambient, electronic pop music, where silence and repetition are often mistaken for space and beauty, there's a fine line between reaching the summit of serenity and invoking the profound and negative desire to take a nap--especially when the singer's voice has the qualities of a whisper.
But on her debut record, Blue Cotton Skin (released on her own Red Buttons Records), Peters pads her songwriting with spacious synth melodies, capricious beats, and acoustic guitar. Peters' career as a laptop programmer/synth player supplanted her stint as a folk artist, so she's a savvy songwriter. Her music is structured, but also incredibly atmospheric due to delayed keyboards or well-placed harmonies.
While a couple songs sound too close to Bjork's Vespertine for comfort, the majority of the music on Blue Cotton Skin is well orchestrated, if not unique. Daintiness isn't employed as a tool here as much as with some of Peters' contemporaries (Via Tania, Mazzy Star, etc.). At no point will you feel like you should offer Peters' wanton soul some bread and water for her pitiful delicacy (or, like, check if she's been hitting the Percoset). Instead, Peters comes off as authentic and honest, letting her voice be as strong or meaty or woozy as it wants to be, while the electronics add the ambience and the keyboards play out like a music box. It's like having a flying dream, or lying out in a field of green grass, all up in the ether.