Love Injection`s Barbie Bertisch takes a break from tirelessly cataloguing and celebrating New York`s rich cultural heritage, and instead sort of shyly steps into the spotlight. I say “shyly” because Barbie does this very tentatively. There`s no fanfare or bombast associated with her acceptance / announcement of herself as an artist. There’s a lot of modesty involved here, that I guess comes from interviewing, and getting know, so many of NYC`s legends and greats. Barbie`s long-player, Prelude, collects 11 pieces, recorded over 5 years, in her apartment studio. The compositions centred around saxophone, machines, and bass. I’ve no idea if the compositions are arranged chronologically, or if they are themed, that information is left ambiguous, open to the listener, but to my ears there are discernible differences between sides 1 and 2.
The first feels ethereal, like a fever, a hallucinogenic high. Percussion shakes and shuffles, gentle sine waves grow into growling arcs. Suggestions of romantic melody rising and falling in swells, around low-end oscillations and undulations. Arhythmic rumbling mixes with distant laughter, and things slowly shift toward the unsettling.
An ambient short, of shooting star sound effects, segues into some post-acid house – think Factory Floor – located somewhere between industrial and Sheffield bleep, but the depth of delay used on the drums makes its movement more of a dream-like drift. Listening I’m reminded of Samo DJ / KWC 92`s cracking, sometimes creepy, Dream Of The Walled City soundtrack, and I also hear similarities with Kai Hugo`s Palmbomen II project. Except, in the case of the latter, Barbie`s work is sleeker, smoother, packing less plastic window-pane grit. It`s almost an alternative, more electronic, Twin Peaks score. Circling chimes, and ringing repeats, overlapping and phasing, build into this intense insectoid buzz, before launching into the Chris & Cosey-esque, kinda cold wave disco of Is This What You Wanted.
This delirious, distorted, dervish dance then leads the way into the album`s second side, where things seem to focus more on Barbie`s bass-playing – consequently pushing a post-punky edge to the fore. After The Storm, for example, while a comparative crystalline calm, its plugged-in rhythm relatively peacefully popping, comes on like Jayne Casey`s Pink Industry. Fertile Garden marries stripped back old school Chicago jack patterns to siren-like sighs, while the mindful mantra of Taking My Time slowly twists layers of twanging guitar into a ceremonial Spacemen 3-esque, ecstasy symphony. There are movers and shakers here, for sure, but the mix-down is such that nothing is “banging”, more hypnotically groovy, all of it hooked on Barbie`s great b-lines. Warm In The Dark is a climatic, cathartic, closer, shot through with UFOs and shamanic shrieks, 100%, totally, deserving of its subtitle, Release.
Barbie Bertisch`s Prelude will be released on June 17th. You can order a Coke-bottle clear vinyl copy direct from Love Injection.