Jessica Bailiff, Hour Of The Trace (Kranky)

Posted December 31st, 1998 by admin · No Comments

Jessica Bailiff
Hour Of The Trace
By: Eric G.

You don’t have to read her bio to figure out that Jessica Bailiff hails from the school of slow-core typified by bands like Low and Codeine. From the first droning notes of Hour Of The Trace, Alan Sparhawk’s influence is evident, almost overpowering as he recorded and produced this second effort. If you can believe it, Bailiff’s sound is even lighter and more atmospheric than Sparhawk’s band, Low. A guitar shimmers gently against a warm organ line in the album’s opener, “Crush.” Bailiff’s voice is soft and unassuming and very reminiscent of Julie Cruise from the Twin Peaks soundtracks.

Low’s Mimi Parker guests on “Toska” with her patented, delicate drumming style. The music combines simple craftsmanship with varying levels of textures and aural landscapes. “After Hours” glides soaringly overt top a thick wall of distorted guitar a la My Bloody Valentine or even, perhaps, early Flying Saucer Attack. Bailiff shows a bit more beef in her voice when the noises are louder but she never gets carried away. She drones amidst a wash of reverb in the stark “Amnesia”, which features a distant yet haunting guitar line.

The album is only seven tracks long, but the songs are expansive and explore murky depths through repetition and ultra-slow pacing. The album feels very studied and carefully plotted as though each sound were tested for its brittle timbre before playing began. Bailiff never abandons traditional pop structure, so the songs actually have a familiar feel despite being drawn out and numbingly slow. This album is hardly subtle in its attempt to immerse you in Bailiff’s fragile netherworld, but it manages to hold your attention and suspend your disbelief.

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