Erica Nockalls – Imminent Room

I meant to write something about this album ages ago, as I acquired it before the official release and have listened to it loads – I could pretend that I was awaiting the opportunity to see how Erica’s music translated to live performance (which I’ve now done!), but if I’m honest I’m just a terminal procrastinator and I either never quite got around to it escaped my mind.  So now I’m going to get around to it!

Erica Nockalls is probably best known as the fiddle player with The Wonder Stuff and as part of a duo with Miles Hunt – both projects that I’d heartily recommend checking out if you haven’t already, but a solo project is quite an intriguing proposition.  When I pre-ordered Imminent Room I had no idea what to expect in terms of style of music, so I can’t exactly say I was surprised when I first listened, but I kinda was because well, it’s not really something that is easy to categorise.

That fits quite nicely with her comments in the record artwork really, this is a response to not really finding any music that quite fits the bill.  I’m not a fan of pigeon-holing anyway, but it’s something that seems quite irresistible when describing music or other things – but even if you manage to do that with one of the tracks on this album, you’ll find others that you’d classify differently – yet the whole composition hangs together wonderfully without jarring.

Despite trying not to, I’ve found myself going track-for-track as I reflect on this, so I’m going to be a bit waffly – although I think it’s worth it you might just want to go and get the album and see what you think!

The intro to Manikin gives few clues to what’s to come, it could be the start of a dreamy Cranberries song – but once it accelerates itself it warps into an almost jarring tirade of energy.  Neon Crucifix plays a similar trick with a jaunty intro leading into an intense-but-slow-paced sound-scape and then more high energy almost punk with the angry cry of  ‘Thank God we don’t believe in God’ screaming out from the dirty guitar noise, it’s one to be careful not to accidentally sing along to whilst at work with your headphones on!

If you think you have the measure of what’s to come though you’re brought down to a brooding and dystopian image when Serpentine City begins, a slow-paced start as before but this one remains haunting and slow with Erica’s voice deservedly taking centre stage.  Straight after we’re back up to a faster pace, Cut Them Out is catchy from the off with the violins taking a leading role amidst the dirty guitar dirge – it’s no surprise that it’s found itself a single, it’s brilliant catchy whilst retaining the edge and quirkiness prevalent across the album.

The next track is my favourite – I Am Me, This Is Now sounds a bit like a long-lost track from Garbage’s first album (this is very much a compliment!), although there’s a prominent fiddle solo in there too which I can’t imagine Manson, Vigg et al featuring that in their early material. The brooding menacing music is countered with layered vocals and sampling that just works for me on every level along with the dirgey repetitive chorus, I just love it – I was properly chuffed when it featured in the live performance at Rock City.

Day One, One Day is another highlight for me – starting with violins it kicks into a varied-pace and multi-layered refrain that anyone who has ever attempted a ‘Day One’ exercise in giving up something could probably relate to (or witnessed someone else doing one and not doing a very good job of it!!).  Lover Fifty-One brings us back to a relaxed pace again with vocals the central feature until some percussion and intensity builds a little short of half way through the track

One More Forest is higher paced and fun, at least for me being a Forest supporter always raises a wry smile with the line “Get lost in the forest, there’s no fear here” – quite the opposite of what we generally experience when watching the football team (not that I think the Reds were Erica’s inspiration for the song!!).  This moves us onto It’s A Killer, Darling which has a gentle beginning that builds into something really rather intense and lovely as it reaches the half-way point and beyond.

erica

Erica and her band are awesome live, too.

The title track Imminent Room is a beautiful piece of music from the off – gentle violins and whispers kick into expansive layered vocals ending in something that sounds like a modern re-imagining the soundtrack to an Elf scene in a Tolkien film.  I realise that sounds batshit crazy, but that’s what it evokes in my mind, so there!  Finally we finish with Goodbye Spider, a touching and gentle lament to bring the album to a quiet close.  A collection of varied sounds that somehow manage to make sense together – it’s really very good indeed.

Upon hearing it I was intrigued to see how what is a pretty complex and very produced album could be rendered live, and along with her awesome band Erica delivered on that too – with just drums, guitar, bass and her covering vocals, violin and second guitar they produced a brilliantly engaging performance.  I’d definitely pay to see them not just as a support act, and in being sandwiched by Ferocious Dog and The Wonder Stuff they both followed and were followed by tough acts!

So click on this link and buy it – it’s a tenner very well spent indeed!

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