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Less Bells: Mourning Jewelry – “an album for solitude to escape everyday burdens”

The second installment from Julie Carpenter reflects on darkness of the past.

Inhabiting the sparse surroundings of Joshua Tree, ambient orchestrator, Julie Carpenter, returns with her sophomore album under the Less Bells moniker.

Where Carpenter‘s 2018 debut, Solifuge, was an orchestral-laden sequence of bold rich textures, Mourning Jewelry is far removed, both in aesthetic and concept.

Carpenter states that Mourning Jewelry was produced from the need to “create beauty out of grief” and it’s certainly that, capturing a dark imagery that places the conscious to reflect on those who have left us.

Aesthetically, Mourning Jewelry is filled with warmth and drenched in sunset drones that form a vital lineage and provide a necessary juxtaposition to the vexing themes presented.

Opening cut, Brooch, comprises of swarming buzzsaw drones that feel as if they were conceived from the bottom of a canyon, swelling with reverb that echos around nimble rich string arrangements.

Lead single, Fiery Wings, sounds like a streamlined version of something we are used to hearing from A Winged Victory for the Sullen. It’s minimalism and Carpenter‘s haunting wordless vocals sound like a soundtrack to accompany one walking through a thick blanket of winter fog.

Less Bells – Mourning Jewelry

The flickering synth of The Gates is a track truly designed for churches. It provides a gorgeous ethereal backdrop sparking imagery that’s likened to being summoned to heaven by angels. The underpinning of the piano gives the song an extra tear-jerking emotional depth that isn’t rivalled on Mourning Jewelry. It’s truly beautiful.

Queen of Crickets takes its cue from the Bowery Electric‘s Empty Words deconstructing the rhythm into this arching ambient landscape that opens up with a fluorescent glare akin to Fennesz‘s Glide whereby you a guided into a new world.

Plait is a digital collage that whirrs with murky snyths, sparse banjo-strumming, and a gentle rattling of strings. It’s the darkest juncture on Mourning Jewelry – that rock bottom moment where hope appears intangible. Another lifetime away, even.

Carpenter‘s angel-like voice returns for the fitting closer that is The Fang. The song’s floating-in-the-ether synths and spatial soundscapes capture the overall mood of Mourning Jewelry. An album for solitude to escape everyday burdens. For us to catch our breath and reflect.

This year we’ve been lucky enough to be graced with a Julianna Barwick album. That in itself is a privilege and celebration for listeners to immerse themselves in.

With Less BellsMourning Jewelry, those same rules apply. Julie Carpenter has given us her best album yet.

Mourning Jewelry is out now via kranky.

By Simon Kirk

Product from the happy generation. Proud purple bin owner surviving on music, books and LFC. New book, Welcome To Charmsville, available from all major vendors.

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