by Half Waif
When we wrote about Half Waif’s ‘Turn Me Around’ earlier this year (the third track on this wonderful new album) we spoke of it as a series of rabbit holes, a puzzling caricature of the world that invited you in and then teased you with closed passages, hidden doorways and all manner of unexpected twists. While that narrative remains true on a microscopic level, what the full ‘Probable Depths‘ LP does is to throw its arms fully around the listener, not to tease you with the world itself depicts but to invite you all the way in and ask you to stay awhile, until what once felt distant and perplexing feels beautifully nuanced, a lush, vibrant, world, fierce with fire and fervour, that, over time and repeated visits, end up cozying up in, without the smallest intention of leaving.
The project of Nandi Rose Plunkett, who also plays in the new incarnation of the fully-flourishing Pinegrove, calls upon varying friends and acquaintances to flesh out these magical pop songs with varying bursts of instrumentation. What is perhaps most intriguing about the entire thing, however, is just how personal it all feels. Dreamlike, vague and warped it might well be but it’s undoubtedly her vision and that in itself brings a pin-point sense of clarity and is the reason we, as outsiders, still manage to draw so much from it. Most notably it’s that voice that is the most pertinent, most alluring, of calling cards. It should take an awful lot to draw attention from the ever-shifting forms of the instrumentation but one quiet breath from Plunkett is all that’s required. And quiet breaths there certainly are, fading in alongside staunch howling wails, drifting Kate Bush-esque mediations, and just about any other balletic presentation you might, and might not, expect the human voice to perform.
Perhaps the best example of the craft which guides this little gem of a record is the closing trio fo songs. ‘Stutter Stop‘, a slowly-swelling pop song built upon a soft opening of voice and tender instrumentation that grows into something far more robust as the whole thing is slowly ramped up, extra layers added until the track’s transformation is complete. Then there’s ‘Know Your Body‘, a two-minute slow-crawl through sparse piano and fluctuating ambience, before ‘Tactillian‘ brings ‘Probable Depths’ to a close in truly striking form; four-minutes of sublime craft that is the longest track here but also perhaps the most naked, diving in to deeply personal profundity with the careful, powerful grace of a high-wire acrobat; very much alive and performing in this world but existing, blooming, prospering in their wildly distinct one too.
“I tore the lily from its branches.
You’ve given me too many chances.
Quiet now, I’m so quiet.
Quiet now, I’ll be quiet.”
Probable Depths is out now
Buy it on cassette via DZ Tapes here
Half Waif play Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn on May 12th