Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Cold Specks, Part I

One of the most unique and talented singers I've been listening to for the past five years is Cold Specks. In 2013 she collaborated with Moby on two songs for his Innocents album: "A Case for Shame" and "Tell Me." Her voice was haunting; her lyrics, sublime. The vocals on those tracks took my breath away. I felt as if I was hearing a voice from my childhood that I long ago forgot existed as a possibility.

I devoured everything by her. I bought her first album I Predict a Graceful Expulsion as well as all the B-side and one-off tracks I could find. These songs were damn beautiful--a constellation of doom-soul and goth-folk. "Blank Maps," for me, is the highlight of her early work.

That October I flew to Los Angeles for Moby's concert at the Fonda Theatre, where I saw Cold Specks perform her two songs with him. I was enraptured.

The following year she released Neuroplasticity, an album gushing with angular jazz forms restrained within listenable pop structures. Her collaboration with jazz trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire on that album proved fruitful, and she sang a track on his album that was also released in 2014. Here is "A Season of Doubt."

In just the first two years of following her career, Cold Specks excelled in bizarrely disparate genres. While cutting her teeth on folk-leaning doom-soul, she's also shown herself an impressive lyricist, singer, and interpreter of trip-hop, electronica, soul, and jazz. She even provided backing vocals on Massive Attack's "Dead Editors." All of this sets the stage for her third album, 2017's Fool's Paradise.

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