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HomeMusicBat For Lashes: The Dream Of Delphi - Album Review

Bat For Lashes: The Dream Of Delphi – Album Review


Bat For Lashes: The Dream Of Delphi.                    

Mercury KX Records

All Formats

Out Now

Natasha Khan releases her Sixth solo album as Bat For Lashes, bringing a windswept yet maternal attitude to her latest release. MK Bennett is quiet on set.

 

Those of us raised by single parents instinctively understand the absence at the heart of and in the heart of, life up to and beyond a certain point. This unscratchable itch, a vision of the perfect life of others, can never be yours, nor understood by you. It is a language you cannot speak, a meal you will never eat, and you ache for it that much more, because you know it can never be yours. Parenthood weighs the scales of your heart and recalibrates your thinking in impossible ways. It is a test of character, of sheer guts and guile, the horrors and wonders of your own body, the endurance of the self.

Natasha Khan aka Bat For Lashes, became a mother to Delphi during Covid. She wrote her song poems in those fevered dream days of constant infant care and masked world views, writing and resting whenever possible, programming keyboards ahead of working on future details. The resulting work is of quiet contemplation and subtle conceptualism with a small c. Striking you as someone who gives their heart to every project, you wonder if she needed to step away from this for some objectivity, something that art about your children can rarely give you.

The Motherwitch, a character, an alter ego she gives to herself to become the protector, the mother-in-armour, the Heroes cape and the centre of the universe is brought to life in these beautiful love songs, the necessary depths she must swim to reach a surface she cannot know is there.

Is The Dream of Delphi itself a premonition? A singular keyboard line and an exquisite vocal, harmony and backing entwined, the drums come in three-quarters of the way through, and it briefly sounds like mid-90s Aphex Twin before the strings and birdsong re-enter the fray. Eventually, you will start to hum that keyboard line in your sleep. The wondrous, almost wordless Christmas Day, Sakamotoesque as the piano imitates falling snow and the heartbreaking words “ You’re a gift, but not mine, that I’ll come to give away in time “ the early contemplation of the empty nest or an uneasy sharing of love?

Letter To My Daughter is deliberately childlike, initially before the more hopeful “ Your life, an echo my darling, of all before “ big piano and the warm sun, the accompanying video has Natasha as the Good White Motherwitch, the choreographed dance sequences mimic and repeat breastfeeding and holding babies, all in a muddied field, maybe a reference to the Pendle Witch Trials, a metaphor for the patriarchal violence visited on the feminine, a warning from the battlements, because love is also anger and defiance and rage.
At Your Feet, another piano-led piece is over halfway before the voice joins at just above a whisper, a murmuration, a synth buzzing in the back, the choir-like vocal accidentally takes us to church, a devotional with the devastating pay off “ Sure as the day breaks, so do I “. The Midwives Have Left explains itself through its title, the rest a wordless and ancient chant to the stars, long deep moments of relief, time to breathe, worry still words and worlds away.

Bat For Lashes-Delphi

Home ( Single Version ) is more chart-friendly, more pop like her previous album, a mix of all the new young Divas, Billie, Miley, and Ariana, and could be a song to her child, to her lover or her city of birth, but it’s a charming upbeat modern radio song, hopefully soon to be heard from phone speakers at bus stops everywhere. Breaking Up is two minutes of adult yacht rock, bass synth and saxophone to the front, Roxy Music without Bryan and every slight, whimpering glance that entails. Instrumental because what’s left to be said?
Delphi Dancing has the last brief beautiful word ‘Softly, hold me, and smile “which starts with a fabulous synth line that dissolves into that pure high perfect vocal of Natasha’s, before a brief interlude of recital music, heartwarming and blanket-wrapped. Her First Morning is an ethereal and magical thing, the sound of a baby’s first mobile above a cot, as the voice moves the notes around.
Waking Up finishes this remarkable record, with a sequenced keyboard line again dissolving into something lighter, slower, and emotional, darkness becoming light.
Natasha’s multimedia approach means these are never just simple songs or soundscapes, the choreographed high hysteria and exaggerated mannerisms of the visuals suggest Bollywood, while the open spaces and relative lack of scripting in the music recall Wim Wender’s view of America in Paris, Texas. There’s the Earth and the Sea as elemental forces, a metaphor for parenting as wave after unstoppable wave.
This is a rare beauty because the love expressed is pure and undriven. Her brilliance is measured by the fact that this translates into her art, always written from a point of history and empathy but this time at least, it is simply a love song for Delphi.

 

 

 

Bat For Lashes Facebook | Instagram | Website

All words by MK Bennett, you can find his author’s archive here plus his Twitter and Instagram

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