Vikki Jackman, Andrew Chalk & Jean-Nöel Rebilly A Paper Doll's Whisper Of Spring LP
Another discovery whilst checking boxes of stock, a few copies of this beautifully packaged LP of sparse & delicate music from a few years back.
*REVIEW FROM BRAINWASHED* 'Named after the groundbreaking 1926 film by Kenji Mizoguchi, this collaboration opens with a very familiar sound found in the first two Vikki Jackman albums: Vikki on piano. Once again it is a slow, delicate, and serene melody, but it is brief and a quite deceptive introduction to the album, conceptually. There is very little of the bright piano as the record unfolds.
While I am versed on Andrew Chalk, I don't have any frame of reference for Jean-Noel Rebilly. Chalk is certainly versatile enough to manipulate moods and feelings with what sounds like the slightest changes in textures and timbre. A Paper Doll's Whisper of Spring shares the very direct characteristic of Vikki's most recent solo album, Whispering Pages: the songs vary in length but are all grounded in a relatively short time, unlike the sidelong pieces on her first album, Of Beauty Reminiscing, where the whole feel was far more dreamlike. Paper Doll's Whisper... is not as bright as Whispering Pages, however, and is somewhat odd to listen to this time of year as the summer is beginning.
Great Britain isn't exactly known for its pleasant weather and this spring has been an exceptionally grey and rainy one, so it's probably no surprise that this album is a product of the winter and cold spring. There's a sense of sadness and longing, which is quite a change from what I considered was an uplifting album. Following the under a minute opening "Mist," the trio present two pieces absent of a recognizable piano. "Nami" is a gorgeous interplay with almost inaudible low rumblings, matched with long, echoing sounds that seem to whisper every now and again, while what sounds like a plucked instrument of some sort is providing the only element that hints at melody. More importantly is the sort of feeling of sorrow, which is something I wasn't expecting. "Snowflake," which follows, has a sense of longing, perhaps a sleep that desires to wake up soon.
It isn't until "Magnolia" where the piano is identifiably audible again. If "Snowflake" is the longing to wake up, "Magnolia" is certainly the break of day. On this beautiful album centerpiece, it seems like the piano is only accompanied by the faint sounds of a wind instrument, possibly a clarinet, and the echoes of the piano looping back. All around is a delicate sense of stillness but the mood is far more uplifting and alive with hope.
What follows seems more like sketches, as each of the four remaining songs are extremely brief at around four minutes and under. With music this patient, a two or three minute piece doesn't have the time to fully develop, especially in "Wandering," where the echoes seem to quiet down to almost nothing in the middle and swell back up again before it fades out, almost unnaturally. "Plume" sounds like the reintroduction of the clarinet that may have been heard in "Magnolia," with a very unnerving and dissonant play between that, the piano, and possibly a very low frequency bass. This piece is under two minutes and also fades unnaturally, suggesting that it could have gone on much longer with much less than desirable results. Now I'm left with the sense of longing for something that could have become out of that session which could have been more rewarding as a much longer and more developed piece.
"Whispers" closes the album appropriately with a play between a softer, more somber piano and string-like accompaniment, and the mood is far more of a sunset than the feeling of sunrise on "Magnolia." While I do enjoy it and can appreciate its beauty I feel like we got to this point a little too fast. Even though the album is nearly 45 minutes, Paper Doll's Whisper... almost seems like it went by too quickly.' Jon Whitney