AOTY 2021
Tirzah - Colourgrade
Oct 1, 2021
As hypnotizing as it is deeply emotional, this second album Colourgrade is a release in many senses of the word. Tirzah has let herself be carried by the wind by opening the doors of her intimacy and imagination. This equation allows Co-lourgrade to be a breathtaking sonic adventure.

As this week does not oblige us (in a way) to fix most of our attention on very popular artists, it is therefore a pleasure to be able to take advantage of it to take a look at an artist as fascinating as talented. Tirzah's life path was destined to make music and especially to make it vibrate. The Londoner is typically the profile of an artist of the new generation that I appreciate, that is to say a touching personality, very versatile, who lives through her time to try to make our music evolve. As it is often the case today, Tirzah breaks the boundaries of styles, but it is especially in a formula that we can describe it more easily. This formula resides in a very vaporous atmosphere, in a very hypnotic electronic instrumentation, often downtempo, and of course in her very ethereal way of singing which combines R&B and Pop. In a short time, Tirzah has gone from an underground gem to a critically acclaimed singer. Her hit EP I'm Not Dancing in 2013 saw her work for Tricky (Massive Attack) and Baauer, travel through festivals and live shows to finally sign with Domino for her debut album Devotion (2018). Accompanied by her faithful friend Micachu on production and Coby Sey, whose relationship with this first goes back to their prestigious school, Devotion has thus so dazzled the critics that her return 3 years later the arrival of her second album Colourgrade still sounds like a small event.

Although she still has strong personality traits and singularities, Tirzah shows another side of herself on Colourgrade. If Devotion gathered all the essence of the author in an idyllic, pop and melodic version more accessible, this second album wants to be as rebellious, unstable and particularly for complex to understand. We can also say that it is clearly this complexity that makes the beauty of this album, because it proposes almost in a raw state what goes through Tirzah's head. Yet, the singer who gave birth to her second child could have offered this kind of sweet and warm album, voluntarily naive, to show the immense love between a mother and her children. But paradoxically, Colourgrade wants to be reserved, cold, sometimes cerebral, while it is mostly based on this maternal relationship or other emotions like love and romance. Instead, this second album shakes up the codes of the pop, thanks to a mysterious spectrum that overhangs the whole, by this self-destruction articulated on interspersed or minimalist phases. Finally, although the incorporation of several musical styles makes that each song has a different flavor, Colourgrade is a kind of omnipresent Minimal Wave Revival, with this formula destitute, disillusioned, sporadic as if the time was slowed down. What makes this album act like a snake charmer where the listener is totally bewitched by what he hears.

Just listen to the eponymous introductory track to understand that the adventure will be special and surprising, as this UFO performance indicates. It sounds like an extraterrestrial or robotic discussion in the middle of the night. Colourgrade has a knack for making you feel uncomfortable as if you are trying to communicate with someone who does not speak your language, but it is so strange and successful that multiple im-ages are created in your imagination. It may be that listening to it you will not really be where you placed, but it is highly recommended to give it several chances. Tectonic also sounds like a lunar song, where the border between the real and the supernatural es-capes you a little. Tinged with Downtempo and Minimal Wave colors, Tirzah and Coby Sey act like ghosts deeply attracted by relatively sensual desires. This same attractiveness gives the listener the impression of being trapped in a rather morbid atmosphere while remaining in a kind of curious paralysis. Not to mention the delirious instrumental crescendo, which sounds like a telephone ringing or an alarm repeating in a fabulous loop. It's both disturbing and effective. The addition of weird sound samples is an integral part of the album, like on Hive Mind with this kind of dog barking noise (maybe) that makes it sound dirty and annoying on purpose. It's as if instead of putting in an extra rewarding ingredient, the author favored a noise that disturbs your ear. I think Hive Mind is the kind of double-edged song that will have a very distinct opinion, because either you like it a lot or not at all. For me, this bark has become a key element, supporting this suspended atmosphere where the opposite force interaction ( cold/warm) with Coby Sey acts like a living battle.

Paced by a pulverizing and menacing infrabass, Recipe first shows that the album continues to grow as it evolves. This album is deserved and never falls into compromise, it's just the way it is and not otherwise. There are some powerful things about Recipe, so much so that you feel like you're experiencing this emergency in the first person. The bass is stifling, saturated on purpose, imperfect, dirty. This one comes to marry perfectly with these angry drones and this sharpened synthesizer. On the contrary, Beating is warm and sincerely comforting. Based on her family and love situation, this song acts as an absolutely touching thank you poem from a mother, a woman to her partner as if after going through the fog and doubts, the present presents a happier face. For the time Tirzah displays a confidence that allows her to let her voice carry to melodies absolutely delicious and liberated. I don't necessarily find a link to correlate in the evolution of the album, like a story that continues to the sequence of songs, but it seems that Recipe to Crepuscular Rays are thought to follow a progression on the point of themes. Beating's contextual change allows the following to breathe more wisely. Sleeping is a kind of minimalist punk ballad with electric guitar and a secondary drum that almost gives this lo-fi effect. We are then far from the suffocation of the beginning of album, we find ourselves rather on a calmed version. And that makes only begin, since Crepuscular Rays arrives at the apogee of the relaxation, with a work as fantastic as staggering on more than 6 minutes. Tirzah is so entranced by her own emotions, that she lets herself go to a performance where only the humming serves as an asset. To understand this madness, it is enough to realize that these 6 minutes and it passes at an improbable speed. Never has the snake charmer sounded so true as on Crepuscular Rays.

And it doesn't stop there. The reason Send Me is so great is because this song is a pinna-cle of the Colourgrade formula. The repetition effect is amazing and feels like a heartbeat on adrenaline. To make the perfect contrast, the multi-layered and textured oriented vo-cals provide the necessary complementary element. Once the alchemy between the 2 elements is achieved, Send Me ends with a dazzling Noise Rock firework. Sink In is a little bit against the grain, it's one of the few songs that is like a nostalgic ballad in the heart of the European Minimal scene of the 80s. If Tirzah is so comfortable, so brilliant on this one, it's simply because she finds herself naturally on known grounds. Repetitive and hypnotizing loops, dictated by a chilling synthesizer, which allows her to make her warm voice vibrate. Finally, Hips propels you to the roof of the world to see aurora borealis through a stunning psychedelic experience. This one confirms that Colourgrade needs time to blossom in order to understand it. Ending with a warmer touch is also an asset since it allows you to continue to familiarize yourself with the qualities of its author. In my opinion, Colourgrade is not only a confirmation, it is above all a victory through improvement. By bypassing the pop conventions and letting herself be carried by her real desire, Tirzah and her team were able to offer the most sincere, intimate and thrilling version of her main author as if the shyness had faded away to leave room for multiple doors not opened until now. Without forgetting also to speak about the fact that musically, although we are not on an innovative revolution, Colourgrade is particularly modern and futuristic without leaving us too much time to think about the Minimal Wave influences that initiated it.
Track Ratings
1Colourgrade / 70
2Tectonic / 70
3Hive Mind / 70
4Recipe / 90
5Beating / 80
6Sleeping / 80
7Crepuscular Rays / 90
8Send Me / 90
9Sink In / 90
10Hips / 80
Doublez's Tags
Oct 1, 2021
Oct 2, 2021
๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™ @cstruart
Oct 5, 2021
Sorry Aymeric, I really tried to get into this but couldn't :/
Oct 5, 2021
Np i understand you, as well as all those who share your opinion about this album
As I explain several times in my review, Colougrade is an album that logically creates a great polarity of opinion because it's as if it acts as a new taste that we discover, but this one is very reserved, that is to say that either the listener ends up seduced with time, or he will probably never be. Minimal Wave is a very complex musical genre to like because it is mechanical, cold, often unstructured. This genre also tries to exist by breaking the conventions of an accessible pop song, the minimal wave confronts then several states of different emotions what disturbs unceasingly the apprehension of the listeners,
Oct 5, 2021
Great job on the review!
Oct 5, 2021
@DoubleZ Ah I see
Oct 5, 2021
But I would also like to add that when I clicked on the "minimal wave" tag, I saw familiar albums such as Dean Blunt's Black Metal and Perfume Genius' No Shape, both of which I liked, since they didn't sound too awkward like this one. Maybe those two albums aren't really "minimal wave"?
Oct 5, 2021
I would say that the albums you quoted (which are better than Colourgrade by the way) incorporate there Minimal Wave in a secondary way to accompany a main genre, which is not in my opinion the same thing
If you take for example a cult album like Suicide (1977), it is typically a pioneer of the genre that still divide the opinions, you will have those who adore and those who do not understand or simply do not like
Obviously the fact that it is from there Minimal Wave is not the only argument that explains that Colourgrade is weird, because of course the signature and the choices of the artist will orient the result, and I think that Tirzah voluntarily destructured the whole of her work as in signature
@emomu (:
Oct 5, 2021
@Double Z oh ok, i see. maybe i'll dig deeper into this "minimal wave" genre. thanks aymeric :)
Oct 5, 2021
I recommend you in this case to try Suicide (1977), Young Marble Giants - Colossal Youth (1980), Solide Space - Space Museum (1982), and more recently: Spellling - Mazy Fly (2019) and HTRK - Work (2011) @emomu (:

Thanks a lot, it's kind! @Brando
Oct 5, 2021
@DoubleZ I'm familiar with Spellling, so I'll start there. Thanks!
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