In ancient times, one had to trek to a mountaintop sanctuary to consult the oracle. Mary Ocher channels the otherworldly ends of her creative imagination right to your headphones. Eden (Haute Areal) is a musical omphalos of diverging styles shape-shifting around Ocher’s singular voice. She’s got a megaphone larynx, with the conversational vibrato control of Angel Olsen, the pyrotechnic attack of Ann Wilson, the range of an operatic diva, and the hubba-hubba melodramatic delivery of a cabaret starlet.
The first half of the record is a crystal ball of avant-pop. “Wake Up” and “(As Free As) The Great Outdoors” oscillate between Gothic chamber folk and shrieking Kurt Weill arias, all low-end open fifths with suddenly spot-lit vocals soaring to the stratosphere. “Baby Indiana” is an oud-punk manifesto that replaces cardamom with ketamine. “No Lesson Learned” is a Baroque prelude (complete with electro-harpsichord) with frenzied, schizophrenic vocal doublings that will haunt your dreams. “My Town” is a relative breather, a pleasant lullaby over one-hand Casio arpeggiations.
The vocals in “My Peers and I” are constantly shifted by stereo pans like Leslie speakers, dislodging the melody with an unsettling, irregular Doppler effect. It’s as if Ocher is struggling to sing through a phenomenological representation of the inter-generational binds in the lyrics, getting every other word out from behind muting palms. The incidental noises amplified and layered into percussion are like water dripping into rusted pails in some inner prison, the repeating guitar line (exempt from such panning) the grounding bars she grips.
After the Bacchanal of styles, the record ends with a somber, minimally harmonic dirge spread over multiple tracks. Ocher’s eyes must roll back in her head – she drinks deeply of the pharmakeus, mirroring and morphing electronic waves into primal ornamentation with jaw dropping dexterity.
See Ocher at Lizard Lounge on 4/14. In the meantime, watch an assortment of accompanying videos, like the one for “Baby Indiana” below, in which a blue fetus is wrenched, head-first, from Ocher’s womb!