Scanning more like an extended suite of extra-subtle mood
shifts than distinct songs, the second full-length from Seattle’s Tiny Vipers – a.k.a., Jesy Fortino
– seems to slip in and out of focus as it drifts through the mists created
almost exclusively by her acoustic drones and ghostly voice. But just as
plausibly, it’s the listener’s concentration that drifts off for significant
stretches of Life On Earth.
Fortino’s gift is for making such a sparse instrumental
palette embrace as many emotional shades as it manages: the wonder of
“Dreamer,” the foreboding of “Time Takes,” the wistfulness of “Development” are
all accomplished with the same acoustic-and-voice template. Recorded to analog
with virtually no frills, Fortino changes pace so subtly a simple whistle or
harmonic guitar note practically carries the heft of a solo. Eventually,
though, Life On Earth, thanks mostly
to the four tracks that exceed six minutes, turns into an overly meditative “Om”-like
session that blurs from trance into background noise; at an hour-plus, it’s a
long slog when your concentration wilts.
Perhaps that’s Fortino’s goal, but that approach seems more
fruitful with instrumental music, as a narrative is only as strong as the
listener’s ability to follow it without drifting away.
Standout Tracks: “Dreamer,”
“Time Takes” JOHN SCHACHT