Review by Bernadette Dales
Chelsea Wolfe: ‘Hiss Spoun’ (LP)
I pressed play on Hiss Spun intending to have it on in the background while I did some admin junk that had been piling up. I made it all the way to track two before I stopped what I was doing, made a tea, and skipped the record back to the beginning so I could devote my full attention to it.
In a recent interview with Noisey, Chelsea Wolfe described her new album as a ‘personal exorcism,’ which sums up the mood perfectly: its beautiful, gloomy electronica feels like an ultra-modern horror film score that’ll haunt you long after the record has stopped playing.
That’s not to say that Hiss Spun is all doom and gloom. My favourite thing about this album is that it’s both sweet and heavy, and the juxtaposition of the two only enhances each extreme. Every track is theatrical but cohesive – ethereal vocal lines weave between dirty metal riffs and the instrumental backing lends just enough weight without interfering with Wolfe’s fragile performance.
This is Wolfe’s 5th official album, released 22 September 2017, and follows two single releases earlier in the year. Hiss Spun was produced by Wolfe herself and Ben Chisholm, and includes some familiar names on the credits. Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou recorded the album in his studio, while extra guitar and vocal contributions were made by Troy Van Leeuwen of Queens of The Stone Age and Aaron Turner of Isis, respectively.
I was so excited about this record that I couldn’t wait to share it with my friends and bandmates, but I was disappointed when some of them didn’t share my enthusiasm. Their criticisms were mainly that the tracks are lengthy and too similar, and while I disagreed that this made the album dull, I can see how the repetitive nature could become jarring after a while. It’s such a sombre, emotional record – Wolfe has put so much of herself into these tracks – that I finished the record feeling exhausted.
I think you need to listen to the whole album to get the full effect, but if you’re really short on time, there are some outstanding tracks to jump ahead to. These include the single 16 Psyche, Static Hum and my favourite Twin Fawn which lulls you into a false sense of tranquility before crashing around you at 1.47 – ultimately losing control entirely at the instrumental outro.