If you’re a big admirer of laid back style electro-pop with hints of jungle beat rhythms, atmospherically ambient pads and the graciously serene style vocals of Kate Bush (very specific I know) then Lia Ices‘ newly released album Ices more than likely provides the exact post ‘heavy night out’ chill out vibes you’ve been in search of. This fresh 10-track collective is the third album to be released by Westport, Connecticut singer-songwriter Lia Kessel, also known as Lia Ices.
Ices’ first full-length album (although only 8 tracks) Necima was released in September 2008 and was produced by Nicholas Vernhes of Rare Book Room Studios in Brooklyn, New York. Necima provides the listener with the sort of raw organic soundings and simplicity, of which you might expect from such a newly found artist. This album really has a beauty of its own and is far more grounded compared to the majority of tracks found on new album Ices.
Grown Unknown, Ices’ second album, was released in early 2011 and again recorded at Rare Book Room Studios but released through new record label Jagjaguwar Records. Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon made an appearance on the album, which almost certainly aided in gaining the ever deserved attention towards the lesser known Ices. Although similar in tastes, Grown Unknown presents more musically progressive songs compared to her earlier work and with bucket loads more depth shown through Ices explored experimentation of layered background atmospheres, which create a stronger support of aura throughout the album’s backbone, think Necima with more kick and less grace.
Latest album Ices is a completely fresh breath of cold air, released again under label Jagjaguwar Records on September 16, really is a terrific example of an artist coming into her own. Ices not only showcases the artist’s vast improvements of instrumentation use and advanced fusions of rhythm, but presents to the listener a soulful example of how an ever advancing musician can take previous works and carve out the best into richer tracks of stirringly impassioned music. Leaving behind the spacious airy acoustic tracks of the previous two albums, Ices takes a completely ‘de novo’ direction towards thicker sounds of electronic rounds, ever thoughtful drum loops, and decorates them with her impressively effortless vocals.
First track on the album “Tell Me” enters without fuss and presents itself as a collage of rustic eastern world music loops and melodic modes with the overlapping double tracked vocals of Ices. Although possibly too heavy in reverb and echo effect, the vocal riffs do catch glimpses of memorable hooks and lyrical chants, perfect for socially intoxicated sing-alongs. As the track builds with the classically used minimalistic style composition, it’s a great start to an album and lays precedence to the following nine tracks.
Midway album track “Magick” overflows with the positively charged balance of more natural sounding drumming and the sort of soul lining silky guitar riffs that would sit comfortably in any commercially viable pop hit. Again slightly too many atmospheric vocal effects, which could be seen to smother and take a certain essence away from the track – less can be more. This track probably deserved a more organic approach within the studio. In stripping down to the more traditional acoustic tastes of Ices first album Necima, Ices would be able to showcase more of her natural vocal talent without being compromised. Although substantial in vocal effect, this doesn’t take away from the charmingly smile educing feel to such an enchanting track.
Endless energy, excessive devotion, and late nights are all an obviously apparent factor in the creation of this album. In reviewing numerous albums, I always find their are a select few that at first appear generically simple on the surface, but over time and with constant evaluation become intriguingly enjoyable, this album is one. Music like this imbeds itself comfortable under the skin and finds a cozy crevice between personally pleasure and appreciated musical talent. For something that would accompany every day commuting, background listening or even a gym warm down, this is defiantly deserving of your time.
Purchase: Lia Ices – Ices (iTunes)