CD Review

Ella Blame – “Ineffable Desire”

By Marcus Pan

Ineffable DesireI’m not quite sure what to make of this CD. It’s trippy looking and trippy sounding. But sometimes the familiar feelings of adrenaline-rushed trips (no comment on my level of experience here) can sometimes swing to the bad side – like that time I wandered into an arcade surrounded by blips, whistles and digitized cartoon characters that nearly drove me to insanity and an arrest.

The band here is a duo made up of singer and composer Ella Blame and a multi-instrumentalist named Michael D. Temple. They claim to perform music never heard before and, well, yes I would say they succeeded in this endeavor. The musicology is sometimes interesting, always strange. But there is a detractor here…

In a recent review of a CD called Dark My Way(1), I had mentioned how the female lead vocalist had the ability to “completely wreck” the sound of the tune surrounding her. And Ella tends to, more often than not, do the same thing. I can’t say that Ella can’t sing…surely that’s not the case. But maybe a speech therapist is in order here. She kind of wanders about with an annoyingly high pitched, mumbly voice. It's almost like Ella doesn't complete the words she's speaking or singing, leaving a more incomplete rhetoric vocal style on the tracks. I draw comparison to the high pitch singing style of Lucy Mongrel(2) or the work done by Perpetual Ocean on the Houdini CD(3) within the track Radio Egypt where the vocals were actually incomplete and done, purposefully, with a Burroughsian cut-up style.

I like the bubbling opening groove of Thought Control on track four. Ella does enunciate a little better here as well and while the lyrics – like all the work on Ineffable Desire – are a bit banal, they’re at least interesting at the outset. The music behind the track is interesting indeed, but sometimes with forces playing against each other for a very sharp clashing effect that sometimes can be a bit overdone.

Occasionally the melodies will clash too much against each other for a staggeringly annoying effect, but remains usually light, fluffy and interesting. A good example of this is on I Can't Sleep, which opens with toy-piano like tinkling melodies that really do raise the bar of nuisance in your mind as they are spritzed against one another at the track's opening. And your ear is still drawn to Ella – and not always for good.

Crossing the Border is rather Twinkish(4) in sound, but adds the element of the off-key (intentionally I'm sure) vocal mutterings of Ella. The music by itself is interesting and good, if a little stranger than your usual electronic fare. But it’s certainly diggable and I’m half-hoping that Temple will maybe do a drum ’n bass or ambient/trance CD some time in the future. On track eight, Another Side, I can’t tell if this introduces a new male vocalist, or if this is Ella on an unfeminine day. Kilian Thons, helping out on Swamp of Lead which follows, takes Ineffable Desire in an electro-jazzy direction with much aplomb.

I’m hard pressed to suggest Ineffable Desire to people. I might consider it to those who like, say, My Scarlet Life, Meg Lee Chin or Lucy Mongrel (especially the latter). But Ella Blame can really tread on your nerves on occasion. And while keeping it light and fluffy, she will become a bit annoying vocally, lyrically and even with her manner of presentation that you may find yourself alternately wanting to either jump or fly out of the nearest high window.

(1) Witchkrieg is the band here.
(2) Lucy Mongrel’s self-titled CD was reviewed in Legends #111.
(3) Reviewed in Legends #113.
(4) Quite a novel musical band, Twink had their self-titled CD reviewed in Legends #130 and were interviewed in Legends #128.
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