In a tumultuous back and forth between darkness and light, the sophomore record from Farao is a heartful, organic display of desire and destruction.
“The heart is the organ of desire” croons Kari Jahnsen
(better known as Farao) in the opening track ‘Marry Me’, taken from her sophomore album Pure-O
. The Norwegian multi-instrumentalist’s voice floats effortlessly above a tenacious yet patient bassline, which slowly descends into crackles of reverb and feedback, reflecting the rapture of romantic obsession. ‘Marry Me’ is a terrific opener, setting the lay of the land with warm-blooded emotion, romance, joy and passionate chaos.
Synthetically, ‘Marry Me’ ties together well with the pre-released single ‘Lula Loves You’ – a track which bounces back in the face of adversity with stomping drums, husky whispered backing vocals and those Soviet-era analogue synth splashes so synonymous with Farao’s creative influences. Rippling from the centre of the track, the shade cast over the lyrics (“And there will be times when your heart is lonely / There will be days when he never comes home / And there will be a point where you’ll want to leave him”) is overpowered by a shining, synth-led light: “But my darling please don’t turn away from love”.
In a controlled, power move akin to the likes of PJ Harvey, ‘Get Along’ makes use of that scuzzy, syncopated reverb our ears have become completely accustomed to. Leaning heavily on sensual synthesisers and zither to carry a danceable beat, the track has an organic quality only achieved through experimentation. The muted vocals lend to the record's analysis of the dichotomy of beauty and destructiveness in romantic relationships, allowing the listener to fall obsessively in love with ourselves in the movement.
‘Luster Of The Eyes’ and ‘Cluster of Delights’ continue in the same vein – desirably danceable and devilishly dark. The former sets a pretence of jagged dysfunctionality in its opening bars, only to break into twinkling zither, subtle drums and expansive vocals. Meanwhile, the latter is unabashed in its sensuality; slowly slipping and slithering through Asian-inspired harps that quickly build up to a crescendo of convulsive electronics. ‘Cluster of Delights’ is a cluster of sexual delight and Farao is the raucous raconteur of an ecstatic, tantric experience: “I need a reaction to sedate my power play / In the dawn of the day / Try you on just to slip away”.
There is the tendency with contemporary synth-pop to fall too deeply into the inorganic – the desire to experiment and meld together so many different samples, styles and sounds can take strip the soul from any song in seconds. ‘Gabriel’, while busy and bustling in its production, still manages to beat with very real heart. Farao’s soul, body and mind are laid bare in the speak-song sections of the track, which cleverly juxtapose its consistent bassline: “Fabricated eyes / Stare at my body / Until I unfold / Want you by my side / Not just because I don’t wanna be alone”.
Much in tune with its macabre title, ‘The Ghost Ship’ prickles with icy insecurity. An unsettling track that makes the most of Farao’s off-kilter instrumentation and vocal distortion; it begs to be played more than once. And while its story is clear (“I tried to make things better / But my brutality has always been out of my command / It’s either now or never / I gotta get my shit together to be worthy of a man”) it’s bygone impossible not to play it thrice over to decipher every little delicate detail.
Rounding out the album with pre-released single ‘Truthsayer’ is a fitting end to a sensual yet unsettling record. A track dedicated to personal growth and accepting our own impermanence, Farao emphasises her flair for crafting music that (on the surface) is sweet and delicate, but in actuality, is filled with dark energy. On every listen of Pure-O, the less pure it becomes; feedback, reverb and distortion seep through the cracks, drums sound fuller and the vocal delivery becomes more beautiful and more destructive.
Listen to Pure-O by Farao in full below.
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