Album: Zoe Polanski – Violent Flowers review

by Philip Moss

In the few seconds it takes for Polaroid image to process, you never quite know how the photograph will turn out – such are the variables that light and movement can play. The image that adorns Zoe Polanski’s new record, Violet Flowers, sits in this very state of flux – its muted tones not fully developed – which reflects the two distinctive sides of this debut.

The first thing that’s striking about the opener and title track is its colourful synth loop – which paired with fluttering birdsong – feels a perfect marriage as Polanski’s soft voice appears. ‘Show me the way back home…’ the Israeli songwriter almost whispers, before the loop gains momentum and grows – offering just a hint of the vibrant, hybrid electronic-pop that awaits.

Similar in feel to Coldplay’s experimentations with producer, Brian Eno, awkward percussion, tripping guitars and choral vocal loops bloom on Closer – marking the record’s melodic climax. Perhaps the best example of the now New York resident’s collaborations with sound designer and friend, Aviad Zinemanas, is the closest Polanski comes to totally crossing over – but shows the songwriter’s not afraid to merge the avant-garde and commercial worlds.

As the record progresses, the initial warmth disperses for chillier hues: the programmed drums are that little bit harsher; the soundscapes are that little bit more ominously droning; the melodic freedom is that little bit more reigned in. The Willows, a fine example of this, has an analogue dreaminess that recalls 2018’s The Dream My Bones Dream by Eiko Ishibashi. But, Polanski remains comfortable in this guise too on a journeying debut that is anything but what its sepia washed sleeve may initially suggest.

Secret Meeting score: 84

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