Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Album Review: Liar - Strange Love

Album Rating: 
It shouldn’t of been so much of a surprise that Strange Love was such a personal retelling of Liar’s romance; but it was. This dark garage-house sound doesn’t often strive for intimacy, instead taking a much more detached and reflective outlook, and even when artists like Holy Other and oOoOO defy this it always tends towards generalities more than anything else. In an interview with Earmilk, Liar sets out his objectives, ideas and hopes for the album: revealing the unhealthy levels of love and lust that inspired it.

Strange Love revolves around one lover in particular -referred to only as ‘Andreea Dava’ (Dava being Romanian slang for heroin) in the tracklist- with whom Liar fell in love so fast that he soon crashed right out of it. In the interview, he exclaims: ‘All my dreams became revenge fantasies. In one notable one, I'm a detective, she's a drug-addled hooker, long story short I cave her little head a la that scene in “Drive”.’ The album isn’t quite as pessimistic as the interview, however: preferring to focus on the good times instead of the bad, and taking a while to reach this emotional point in its vaguely chronological duration. But in what could easily be considered as a witch-house leaning album, it’s nice to know that we’re getting the full spectrum of emotion here.

It all starts with a good memory. ‘Benzolovers’ could almost be considered traditional with distorted vocal samples floating on a flood of bass, avoiding the small, rattling spatters of percussion. Traditional, but not stagnant: constant tweaks in style and instrumentation keep it fresh and, more importantly, personal. Liar isn’t about to let himself relax into obscurity just yet; emotional trauma or not. From here the album climbs to more experimental ground as it takes on a more grandiose vibrancy for ‘Nymph Hunter’ before moving on to incorporating increasingly abstract, yet workable styles.

At the apex, ‘Guilia’ and its remix introduce two sides of the same coin, or more accurately: they define Liar’s style through comparison. The original lays down a solid beat only to shift around it with off-beat vocals scattered melodies, whilst the mix sticks much more firmly to its house structure and allows itself to develop into a much more clean-cut, straightforward ‘banger.’ Both of these directions work -either to the same extent or one more than the other depending on preference alone, really- but the change in tone between the two is substantial. While the mix is fairly cheerful in a chilled-out way, the original is shrouded with a dirty, lustful haze; ominous yet inviting.

The cherry on Strange Love’s presumably stripper-full cake is ‘Bruised Knee:’ the final track and collaboration with fellow Romanian electronic artist Borealis. After the rest of the album describes the ecstasy of eating this cake, the sloppy scene following the discovery of its contents and then the horror of realizing that she’s probably infectious, ‘Bruised Knee’  focuses on the very first cake. A memory that Liar looks back on fondly now that enough time has past and, we suppose, how far his romantic life has moved away from that. It’s without a doubt the best track on this album, with a peculiar kind of reflective and happy energy echoing between the looping bass line and high-end melody. A sure sign that Liar has managed to move on from his ‘Drive’-inspired fantasies and return to more stable ground, at least to stable enough ground that he was able to release such an interesting and quality album.

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1. Benzolovers
2. Nymph Hunter
3. Night Swim
4. Fucktoy
5. Guila
6. Guila (Arapaima X-Mix)
7. Andreea Dava
8. Mamaia Vice
9. Bruised Knee Feat. Borealis

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