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Album Review – Anna Calvi

Her debut album is self titled, and vibrant red. Red with passion, lust and womanly desires.

Written by Helen Martin

Du Goudron et des Plumes Ellie Sutton
Du Goudron et des Plumes by Compagnie MPTA with Mathurin Bolze started with a swinging platform lowered slowly over the heads of the performers, medications crushing them into the floor. They emerged from beneath, generic ripping out the innards, transforming the planks into a clanking and clattering playground as the dancers/acrobats/I’m not really sure what you call them swung adeptly, building and destroying, meeting and parting. Rotating vignettes from everyday life met with random acts of acrobatic grace, often finely tuned for comedic effect – the performers scaling planks to sit, gnome like, at the top, or hanging upside down to mirror each other.

The platform rose, swaying, as paper sheets were unleashed to shade the manic silhouettes of the characters behind until, in a flurry of motion, the paper was ripped apart. From minimalist jazz to crashing bells, the soundtrack was finely tuned to the minutest motion. The platform tilted as the occupants scrabbled to maintain control, clinging to each other. My later reading of the notes tells me this was a metaphor for our unstable future on this earth. The show ended with them mired in the middle as if aboard a desperate life raft.

I’d like to say that I drifted off rather frequently during this show because I’m really pre-occupied with the launch of my new book this Friday, but the fact is I probably would have done anyway… for me, that’s the trouble with theatrical shows that lack a strong narrative. At times the rhythm and flow of the five fluid acrobats had me gripped, but then I would find I’d gone somewhere else entirely (shit, I don’t have enough drink for 300 guests) as they swung repeatedly from side to side, the motion acting as a hypnotist’s pendulum to send me off… and when I snapped to the scene had completely changed…a character was half naked smoking a pipe at the end of a plank, the lone girl was swinging wildly through the air astride a rope swing, a man was swinging wildly from the oversized lamp. Director Mathurin Bolze calls this effect “mesmerising patterns.”

This performance was typical of the way that traditional circus skills have been co-opted to create something much more abstract and intriguing in a theatrical setting. There was multiple applause and a standing ovation flooded through the packed theatre as the lights came up on the opening night of Du Goudron et des Plumes.
Du Goudron et des Plumes plays at the Barbican until the 29th of January. You can read another interesting review by Ought to be Clowns here. The London International Mime Festival continues until 30th January 2011. My new book, Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, is officially launched tomorrow.

Du Goudron et des Plumes Illustration Gemma Smith
Du Goudron et des Plumes by Gemma Smith.

Du Goudron et des Plumes by Compagnie MPTA with Mathurin Bolze started with a swinging platform lowered slowly over the heads of the performers, visit this site crushing them into the floor. They emerged from beneath, viagra 40mg ripping out the innards, price transforming the planks into a clanking and clattering playground as the dancers/acrobats/I’m not really sure what you call them swung adeptly, building and destroying, meeting and parting. Rotating vignettes from everyday life met with random acts of acrobatic grace, often finely tuned for comedic effect – the performers scaling planks to sit, gnome like, at the top, or hanging upside down to mirror each other.

Du Goudron et des Plumes by Ellie Sutton
Du Goudron et des Plumes by Ellie Sutton.

The platform rose, swaying, as paper sheets were unleashed to shade the manic silhouettes of the characters behind until, in a flurry of motion, the paper was ripped apart. From minimalist jazz to crashing bells, the soundtrack was finely tuned to the minutest motion. The platform tilted as the occupants scrabbled to maintain control, clinging to each other. My later reading of the notes tells me this was a metaphor for our unstable future on this earth. The show ended with them mired in the middle as if aboard a desperate life raft.

Du Goudron et des Plumes Ellie Sutton
Du Goudron et des Plumes by Ellie Sutton.

I’d like to say that I drifted off rather frequently during this show because I’m really pre-occupied with the launch of my new book this Friday, but the fact is I probably would have done anyway… for me, that’s the trouble with theatrical shows that lack a strong narrative. At times the rhythm and flow of the five fluid acrobats had me gripped, but then I would find I’d gone somewhere else entirely (shit, I don’t have enough drink for 300 guests) as they swung repeatedly from side to side, the motion acting as a hypnotist’s pendulum to send me off… and when I snapped to the scene had completely changed…a character was half naked smoking a pipe at the end of a plank, the lone girl was swinging wildly through the air astride a rope swing, a man was swinging wildly from the oversized lamp. Director Mathurin Bolze calls this effect “mesmerising patterns.”

Du Goudron et des Plumes by Bertie Simpson
Du Goudron et des Plumes by Bertie Simpson.

This performance was typical of the way that traditional circus skills have been co-opted to create something much more abstract and intriguing in a theatrical setting. There was multiple applause and a standing ovation flooded through the packed theatre as the lights came up on the opening night of Du Goudron et des Plumes.
Du Goudron et des Plumes plays at the Barbican until the 29th of January. You can read another interesting review by Ought to be Clowns here. The London International Mime Festival continues until 30th January 2011. My new book, Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, is officially launched tomorrow.

Du Goudron et des Plumes Illustration Gemma Smith
Du Goudron et des Plumes by Gemma Smith.

Du Goudron et des Plumes by Compagnie MPTA with Mathurin Bolze started with a swinging platform lowered slowly over the heads of the performers, medicine crushing them into the floor. They emerged from beneath, nurse ripping out the innards, transforming the planks into a clanking and clattering playground as the dancers/acrobats/I’m not really sure what you call them swung adeptly, building and destroying, meeting and parting. Rotating vignettes from everyday life met with random acts of acrobatic grace, often finely tuned for comedic effect – the performers scaling planks to sit, gnome like, at the top, or hanging upside down to mirror each other.

Du Goudron et des Plumes by Ellie Sutton
Du Goudron et des Plumes by Ellie Sutton.

The platform rose, swaying, as paper sheets were unleashed to shade the manic silhouettes of the characters behind until, in a flurry of motion, the paper was ripped apart. From minimalist jazz to crashing bells, the soundtrack was finely tuned to the minutest motion. The platform tilted as the occupants scrabbled to maintain control, clinging to each other. My later reading of the notes tells me this was a metaphor for our unstable future on this earth. The show ended with them mired in the middle as if aboard a desperate life raft.

Du Goudron et des Plumes Ellie Sutton
Du Goudron et des Plumes by Ellie Sutton.

I’d like to say that I drifted off rather frequently during this show because I’m really pre-occupied with the launch of my new book this Friday, but the fact is I probably would have done anyway… for me, that’s the trouble with theatrical shows that lack a strong narrative. At times the rhythm and flow of the five fluid acrobats had me gripped, but then I would find I’d gone somewhere else entirely (shit, I don’t have enough drink for 300 guests) as they swung repeatedly from side to side, the motion acting as a hypnotist’s pendulum to send me off… and when I snapped to the scene had completely changed…a character was half naked smoking a pipe at the end of a plank, the lone girl was swinging wildly through the air astride a rope swing, a man was swinging wildly from the oversized lamp. Director Mathurin Bolze calls this effect “mesmerising patterns.”

Du Goudron et des Plumes by Bertie Simpson
Du Goudron et des Plumes by Bertie Simpson.

This performance was typical of the way that traditional circus skills have been co-opted to create something much more abstract and intriguing in a theatrical setting. There was multiple applause and a standing ovation flooded through the packed theatre as the lights came up on the opening night of Du Goudron et des Plumes.
Du Goudron et des Plumes plays at the Barbican as part of Bite until the 29th of January. You can read another interesting review by Ought to be Clowns here. The London International Mime Festival continues until 30th January 2011. My new book, Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, is officially launched tomorrow.

Du Goudron et des Plumes Illustration Gemma Smith
Du Goudron et des Plumes by Gemma Smith.

Du Goudron et des Plumes by Compagnie MPTA with Mathurin Bolze started with a swinging platform lowered slowly over the heads of the performers, look crushing them into the floor. They emerged from beneath, order ripping out the innards, transforming the planks into a clanking and clattering playground as the dancers/acrobats/I’m-not-really-sure-what-you-call-them swung adeptly, building and destroying, meeting and parting. Rotating vignettes from everyday life met with random acts of acrobatic grace, often finely tuned for comedic effect – the performers scaling planks to sit, gnome like, at the top, or hanging upside down to mirror each other.

Du Goudron et des Plumes by Ellie Sutton
Du Goudron et des Plumes by Ellie Sutton.

The platform rose, swaying, as paper sheets were unleashed to shadow the manic silhouettes of the characters behind until, in a flurry of motion, the paper was ripped apart. From minimalist jazz to crashing bells the soundtrack was finely tuned to the minutest motion, and as the platform tilted the occupants scrabbled to maintain control, clinging to each other, pushing and pulling. My later reading of the notes tells me this was a metaphor for our unstable future on this earth, and how we can either act together to survive or fail apart. The show ended with them mired in the middle as if aboard a desperate life raft.

Du Goudron et des Plumes Ellie Sutton
Du Goudron et des Plumes by Ellie Sutton.

I’d like to say that I drifted off rather frequently during this show because I’m really pre-occupied with the launch of my new book this Friday, but the fact is I probably would have done anyway… for me, that’s the trouble with theatrical shows that lack a strong narrative. At times the rhythm and flow of the five fluid acrobats had me gripped, but then I would find I’d gone somewhere else entirely as they swung repeatedly from side to side (shit, I don’t have enough drink for 300 guests), the motion acting as a hypnotist’s pendulum to send me off… and when I snapped to the scene had completely changed…a character was half naked smoking a pipe at the end of a plank, the lone girl was cascading through the air astride a rope swing, a man was swinging wildly from the oversized lamp. Director Mathurin Bolze calls this effect “mesmerising patterns.”

Du Goudron et des Plumes by Bertie Simpson
Du Goudron et des Plumes by Bertie Simpson.

This performance was typical of the way that traditional circus skills have been co-opted by mavericks such as Mathurin Bolze to create something much more abstract and intriguing. A standing ovation flooded through the packed theatre as the lights came up on the opening night of Du Goudron et des Plumes.

Du Goudron et des Plumes plays at the Barbican as part of Bite until the 29th of January. You can read another interesting review by Ought to be Clowns here. The London International Mime Festival continues until 30th January 2011. My new book, Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, is officially launched tomorrow.

Du Goudron et des Plumes Illustration Gemma Smith
Du Goudron et des Plumes by Gemma Smith.

Du Goudron et des Plumes by Compagnie MPTA with Mathurin Bolze started with a swinging platform lowered slowly over the heads of the performers, here crushing them into the floor. They emerged from beneath, ripping out the innards, transforming the planks into a clanking and clattering playground as the dancers/acrobats/I’m-not-really-sure-what-you-call-them swung adeptly, building and destroying, meeting and parting. Rotating vignettes from everyday life met with random acts of acrobatic grace, often finely tuned for comedic effect – the performers scaling planks to sit, gnome like, at the top, or hanging upside down to mirror each other.

Du Goudron et des Plumes by Ellie Sutton
Du Goudron et des Plumes by Ellie Sutton.

The platform rose, swaying, as paper sheets were unleashed to shadow the manic silhouettes of the characters behind until, in a flurry of motion, the paper was ripped apart. From minimalist jazz to crashing bells the soundtrack was finely tuned to the minutest motion, and as the platform tilted the occupants scrabbled to maintain control, clinging to each other, pushing and pulling. My later reading of the notes tells me this was a metaphor for our unstable future on this earth, and how we can either act together to survive or fail apart. The show ended with them mired in the middle as if aboard a desperate life raft.

Du Goudron et des Plumes Ellie Sutton
Du Goudron et des Plumes by Ellie Sutton.

I’d like to say that I drifted off rather frequently during this show because I’m really pre-occupied with the launch of my new book this Friday, but the fact is I probably would have done anyway… for me, that’s the trouble with theatrical shows that lack a strong narrative. At times the rhythm and flow of the five fluid acrobats had me gripped, but then I would find I’d gone somewhere else entirely as they swung repeatedly from side to side (shit, I don’t have enough drink for 300 guests), the motion acting as a hypnotist’s pendulum to send me off… and when I snapped to the scene had completely changed…a character was half naked smoking a pipe at the end of a plank, the lone girl was cascading through the air astride a rope swing, a man was swinging wildly from the oversized lamp. Director Mathurin Bolze calls this effect “mesmerising patterns.”

Du Goudron et des Plumes by Bertie Simpson
Du Goudron et des Plumes by Bertie Simpson.

This performance was typical of the way that traditional circus skills have been co-opted by mavericks such as Mathurin Bolze to create something much more abstract and intriguing. A standing ovation flooded through the packed theatre as the lights came up on the opening night of Du Goudron et des Plumes.

Du Goudron et des Plumes plays at the Barbican as part of Bite until the 29th of January. You can read another interesting review by Ought to be Clowns here. The London International Mime Festival continues until 30th January 2011. My new book, Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, is officially launched tomorrow.

Du Goudron et des Plumes Illustration Gemma Smith
Du Goudron et des Plumes by Gemma Smith.

Du Goudron et des Plumes by Compagnie MPTA with Mathurin Bolze started with a swinging platform lowered slowly over the heads of the performers, story crushing them into the floor. They emerged from beneath, cure ripping out the innards, page transforming the planks into a clanking and clattering playground as the dancers/acrobats/I’m-not-really-sure-what-you-call-them swung adeptly, building and destroying, meeting and parting. Rotating vignettes from everyday life met with random acts of acrobatic grace, often finely tuned for comedic effect – the performers scaling planks to sit, gnome like, at the top, or hanging upside down to mirror each other.

Du Goudron et des Plumes by Ellie Sutton
Du Goudron et des Plumes by Ellie Sutton.

The platform rose, swaying, as paper sheets were unleashed to shadow the manic silhouettes of the characters behind until, in a flurry of motion, the paper was ripped apart. From minimalist jazz to crashing bells the soundtrack was finely tuned to the minutest motion, and as the platform tilted the occupants scrabbled to maintain control, clinging to each other, pushing and pulling. My later reading of the notes tells me this was a metaphor for our unstable future on this earth, and how we can either act together to survive or fail apart. The show ended with them mired in the middle as if aboard a desperate life raft.

Du Goudron et des Plumes Ellie Sutton
Du Goudron et des Plumes by Ellie Sutton.

I’d like to say that I drifted off rather frequently during this show because I’m really pre-occupied with the launch of my new book this Friday, but the fact is I probably would have done anyway… for me, that’s the trouble with theatrical shows that lack a strong narrative. At times the rhythm and flow of the five fluid acrobats had me gripped, but then I would find I’d gone somewhere else entirely as they swung repeatedly from side to side (shit, I don’t have enough drink for 300 guests), the motion acting as a hypnotist’s pendulum to send me off… and when I snapped to the scene had completely changed…a character was half naked smoking a pipe at the end of a plank, the lone girl was cascading through the air astride a rope swing, a man was swinging wildly from the oversized lamp. Director Mathurin Bolze calls this effect “mesmerising patterns.”

Du Goudron et des Plumes by Bertie Simpson
Du Goudron et des Plumes by Bertie Simpson.

This performance was typical of the way that traditional circus skills have been co-opted by mavericks such as Mathurin Bolze to create something much more abstract and intriguing. He certainly seems to be a popular man: the performers took multiple bows and a standing ovation flooded through the packed theatre as the lights came up on the opening night of Du Goudron et des Plumes.

Du Goudron et des Plumes plays at the Barbican as part of Bite until the 29th of January. You can read another interesting review by Ought to be Clowns here. The London International Mime Festival continues until 30th January 2011. My new book, Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, is officially launched tomorrow.

anna_calvi_abby_wright

Illustration by Abby Wright

Rider to the sea starts. With slow, approved sensuous notes, find running then halting. We wait. This is like some sort of Spanish guitar tease; the heroin with eyes masked looks at the man playing the guitar on the balcony of a castle. She jumps higher, find her cape flowing out behind her. They see each other and the notes build up to a feverish level. Then stop. My breath is involuntarily left held.

Anna Calvi’s voice is pushed, because she pushes it. She said in an interview with BBC 6 Music recently, that her vocal performances are about commitment; “baring the soul when you sing, not be scared, just show emotion. it’s important that, I think.” And when compared to Florence and The Machine, she says they are similar in that: “When we go for it, we really go for it.” She does.

Anna Calvi by Avril Kelly

Illustration by Avril Kelly

Anna credits a wide range of musical influences from Roy Orbison and Elvis to twentieth century music, which she says comes out in her guitar playing. Sometimes she sounds like she should be singing the intro music to a James Bond movie, other times she is a Kate Bush atop a cliff, and then you may get a hint of Adam and The Ants – tribal, wigs and theatre. She certainly has her own sound, and as she says, really unleashes on that mic. You can feel her whole body behind those deep, propelling notes. Visually, her red lips, sculpted cheekbones and feline eyes add to the womanly, lustful passion of the adventure.

anna_calvi_abby_wright2

Illustration by Abby Wright

I have to admit that the first listen I had, I was not instantly in love with her. However, I was hosting a knit club at my house at the time. And now I realise, for a first listen, Anna is wrong when (perhaps…) extra strong girly vibes are circulating. She is a powerful woman, with no messing or moaning. She is vibrant and direct, not fluffy kitten cute. She has said herself, she is in the business because she loves it. For her, it is not about being ‘careerist’. Maybe this has made her less fearful and safe. She is riding on her own expectations, of which she is willing to push. Thus, I listened to the album a few days later when the moon was full and I was feeling a bit more lioness like, and blimey. It was on all morning and beyond. Together with a coffee, I was screaming from my basement flat. Such a shame I have no rooftops.

Anna-Calvi-by-Mina-Bach

Illustration by Mina Bach

Listen to this and you will see exactly what I mean:

So track highlights; No More Words’ guitar notes are so sweet, with Anna’s voice ‘ahhhing’ over the top and singing so close to the microphone. Desire is as you would hope, with the title it holds; “The sound of love is beating like a fevered heart… It’s heavenly, heavenly, desirrrre.” Yes to desires, passions and DRUMS! In contrast First We Kiss, is the lingering and submission of desire and the story from the kiss to beyond. Whilst Blackout is a scaling, swinging, red hot infused, deep breathing track. Then… we have Morning Light, all strung out notes, infused by the morning’s spreading sun. New starts and consequences. A fabulous, long, slightly hazy, almost mumbly track, climaxing with symbols and the full sunrise. It reflects perfectly the early morning’s sensation. Feeling like you have so much time before the sun rises, but it’s always over quicker than you anticipate. You are not invincible, and the day is beginning.

anna calvi 2 by Avril kelly

Illustration by Avril Kelly

My iTunes says she’s ‘Latin’, but she seems to cover more genres. She has the passions of the Latino, but Anna is also rockier, showier and yet almost primmer than Latin. It’s liberating music, but also feels quite private. A bit like being within the bubble of thoughts consuming a girl in the throes of deep lust, she is singing literally from within. With her Italian blood running through her veins, Anna says this album is about: “intimacy, passion and loneliness.” Strong and all encompassing emotions, that supports both her commitment to performance and the deep, trusted position we are in, as listeners. And you really do believe her feelings as you listen to her.

You know at the end of some of those 80s films, when the couple that have spent the whole movie arguing and bouncing around in bed, get in the car and drive off around a cliff in a sports car that looks like an insect? She would be an AMAZING soundtrack to a modern version of that.

Anna Calvi‘s Album is Out Now on Domino Records

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3 Responses to “Album Review – Anna Calvi”

  1. [...] Review for Anna Calvi’s debut, self titled album for Amelia’s Magazine. Can be read in full HERE. [...]

  2. [...] Hels Martin’s review of Anna Calvi’s album for Amelia’s Magazine read it in full here, beautiful. Anna’s music, subjects and words are all about “intimacy, passion and [...]

  3. [...] (originally for my Amelia’s Magazine article, found here) by Abby [...]

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