by Philip Moss
Almost entirely written in an intense three week period, Vanishing Lands – the new album from Brighton based songwriter, Helen Ganya Brown aka Dog In The Snow – was conjured following a series of ‘strange dreams’. And they seep gloriously into this Bella Union debut.
Built upon her home recordings, there is a rawness to the record that makes it endearing in the same way you may become emotionally attached to a Polaroid or a film shot on 16mm, rather than a digital counterpart. Brown’s love of film soundtracks and the ambience of Brian Eno finds its way into the record’s musicality too. Light feels like the perfect noise collage companion for one of her ‘strange dreams’ – it’s built on gated Hounds of Love drums that pin down the Lynchian sense of doom that lurks under her sensual melody and tastefully layered vocals.
The relative short length of time over which the songs were compose brings with it a cohesiveness. Arrangements too are tight, and the songs are hook laden – its brightest tracks, melodically, are Dual Terror and This Only City, and allow Brown to stand toe to toe with contemporaries such as Lykke Li.
Having worked with ex-Cocteau Twins’ main man, Simon Raymonde, as a vocalist on his Lost Horizons project, it’s no wonder that he was so blown away by Brown’s voice and songwriting – and desperate to sign her. This is a fine collection, and looks likely to help her to continue her trajectory as an exciting artist in her own right.
Secret Meeting score: 78