“Walk into the future, backwards”
This is the sentence that opens the debut album of Tanya Barany, a good promising girl from Switzerland. A melancholic view upon a past that seems never gone away, always looking at it in retrospect. Her voice has the power of a rocky mountain but it’s often kept back, fragile like an alpine edelweiss. Her music a snowy place that freezes the listener but keeps the heart warm like a fire.
But let’s proceed in the right order. The album is called “Lights Disappear”, released on March 8, right in time to give a good ending to the winter and anticipated by the homonymous single in the last day of January. The cover is pretty monochromatic and dark, showing TB falling down into an abyss while watching the light upwards, setting the right mood for the content: watching the last light while falling into darkness.
The album isn’t really long, half an hour for a total of seven songs, and this is good for listening to the whole work because of the mood and the actual speediness of the tracks, mid-tempo for the great part.
The first one is called “In Retrospect”, and begins with backward guitar parts that set the right background. Everything is calm, quiet, the tender voice of TB draws a tragic painting of departure and then everything explodes in the refrain, simply instrumental in the sense that there are no lyrics but just the voice as a melodic tool. The second verse is even quieter than the first one, giving a sense of motion, a natural prosecution of the story without actual repetition. The second refrain, always instrumental, gives space to the end of the song, the curtains slowly closing the stage using silence as a resolution.
The second track is the single “Lights Disappear”, showing the artist looking at the lights outside in contrast with the darkness inside her heart. The music is just electronic drums and bass in the first verse, giving a sense of pop-ish hit song, the bridge dominated by organ and voice alone until the massive tone of the chorus that hits hard with reverbed drums and a super-catchy melody. Melodic hooks aren’t sterile despite the simple use of major scale from the upper tonic to the downward one because it switches to the relative melodic minor before pushing again towards the repetition. The video clip shows TB wandering in a world of duality, light and darkness, hope and desperation.
“Dream Crasher” is the classical blues-based song, guitar and bass pentatonic-ly duetting together in E minor, compressed drums, the only change of color is the second grade of the scale given by the voice at the end of every verse. The bridge modulates launching the music rocket into a chorus of which Madonna herself would be proud, tenderly whispering to the lover to be her dream taker, dream crusher; dream chaser, dream catcher. An organ welcomes the transition, underlying the chorus harmonic part while she repeatedly sings you don’t have to let me sleep, you don’t have to let me sleep. At the end, the ostinato lyrics part culminate into an elision with an added vocal melody, and majestic bass and low guitar underlying the outro together with the strong crash on drums. Another ideal song for a single.
“Nightfall” has the perfume of the dead love ballad, stating that “your love is only a masquerade”, it lets the listener choose about the subject of the song, if it is an actual ended love story or a more general, atmospheric concept of love about nature and its darkness (the nightfall). The cover of the homonymous single in 2018 suggests the latter interpretation, showing a snowy forest at night. It’s the simplest song of the album due to the extreme but effective simplicity, slowly growing in intensity without changing the harmonic matter.
“Sea” is the song one would listen while walking by the shore, at least as it starts. Simple chords, minimal arrangements, the description of a bucolic seascape. It reminds me of Dido and some of her gloomy hits. And then the loneliness comes out, and so comes out the change of the soundscape, T. asking herself “Why should I stay?” and keeping a long, heartbreaking note above a stunning harp sweep section, leading into an interlude of pure electronic noise, desperately trying to stay melodic.
“Neon Brain” reminds me of the first album by Coldplay, Parachutes. A strange hybrid between pop-oriented songs and post-rock mood, settled by crunchy guitars that don’t have a boundary between clean and distorted tone. There is no escape, no strong resolution, chords which push forward while watching backwards, slugging in melancholy. Then comes the breakdown, a slow crescendo in loudness and emotion culminating in an explosion at the end, hitting the crash hard and distorting the guitars.
Neon Brain leads to “Last Song”, that’s exactly what it promises. Just like the songs that usually put an end to the gigs, the last song loops around the same melodic cell and chords from the beginning to the end, keeping it simple to get the listener easily hooked. It adds and removes layers to separate sections, the full band powers the chorus, volume low in verses to serve the voice, the voice just crying or muting on the breakdown to let the instruments build up tension towards the final refrain.
Lights Disappear is the debut album of Tanya Barany, a dark artist but joyful in spreading her voice out there. The production is modern, opening and closing filters to underline the transitions in the middle of the songs, abundant but not invasive usage of echo on instruments in the right spots. Can’t wait to see what the future brings to this winter lady that fills the snowy forest with emotion.
written for you by Music Pills
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