White Poppy megapost

June 30, 2013 at 4:50 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

White Poppy @ The Hideout (SXSW, 2013)

White Poppy @ The Hideout (SXSW, 2013)

I saw White Poppy (Vancouver visual artist and musician Crystal Dorval) at the Not Not Fun showcase at SXSW this year. Every set during that showcase was incredible, and I ended up buying music by every artist that I didn’t already have music by. But White Poppy’s set was truly special, and the new tape she’s releasing on Constellation Tatsu has just been on repeat lately, and is making me revisit the 7″ and tape I bought from her at the show, and finally getting around to posting about her music on this blog. She put out a tape on Not Not Fun last year, which I haven’t heard, but she has a proper LP coming out on NNF later this year, which I’m sure will be fantastic.
White Poppy: Mirage Man

White Poppy: Mirage Man

But last year, she put out a 1-sided 7″ on Kingfisher Bluez called “Mirage Man”, which is a little more rockin’ than the type of stuff she was playing live. This song has pounding drums and a big fat distorted bass guitar sound, and vocals that sort of buzz and snarl, yet still remain dreamy. Plus the title sounds like “Mirror Man”, so I want to describe it as “dream-Beefheart”. The snippet of a bluesy sax solo at the end adds a nice touch.
White Poppy: Song A Day

White Poppy: Song A Day

Also last year, she released a tape on Green Burrito called Song A Day, which contains 18 of the recordings she made during the first month of 2011, when she recorded a song every day. All the songs are titled after the date they were recorded, and they’re not presented chronologically. Like the 7″, there’s plenty of drums and bass guitar, and a little bit more of a ’90s alt-rock feel, especially during the first few tracks. But still plenty of layered, sometimes blown-out vocals, and a few Krautrock-ish rhythms. A few tracks have somewhat Afropop-sounding guitar lines, and the last track on the first side is an experiment with a thumb piano and lots of crazy delay.
White Poppy: Drifters Gold

White Poppy: Drifters Gold

Which brings us to her newest release, the Drifter’s Gold tape on Constellation Tatsu. “Green & Growing” is a short, hazy instrumental introduction, followed by “Who Are You”, which opens and closes with some brief, backwards oldtimey music samples. It’s a gorgeous, lush dreampop song, with delicate guitars and vocals. Dreamy as all get out, but there’s a clear melody and structure, and it’s super memorable. The best part is towards the end when there’s a slight bit of feedback, and the vocals drift away from lyrics into wordless cooing. And then even better is “Daydreaming”, a seriously beautiful piece of music with a nice sunny rhythm and huge pillows of reverb that just put a big ol’ blush on my face. It ends with a few seconds of a capella lost little girl singing, then goes into the tape’s instrumental title track. “In The Sun” follows, and is much slower and more zone-out-worthy than the previous songs. “Silver Eyes” is the other big hit here, coming of sort of like an alien translation of the Everly Brothers’ “All I Have To Do Is Dream”, with a somewhat 50’s-ish guitar melody played slow and full of reverb, and with a refrain of “I guess I’ll dream, dream dream dream”. There’s several layers of vocals and guitars, and it just feels like you’re watching a music video that’s dimly lit, kaleidoscopic and purple, and there’s multiple projections of the same person superimposed on top of each other doing several things at the same time. “When I’m Gone” ends the album appropriately, another lonesome, ultra-drifty, vaguely country-ish open-space ditty which has a sembleance of a toe-tapping rhythm, and some far-out whistling during the last few minutes.

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