Nasstasia Ellefsen (aka Old Girl) has always been an engaging electronic/folk singer-songwriter, but she takes a dramatic turn to the more dark and experimental on her latest release Objet a as she entrances us with peculiar electronica and some creative guitar work.
Lyrically, Ellefsen’s mind is aflame with ideas that she expresses quite poetically. On “Not The Marrying Type” we are introduced to a couple who connect quite deeply, both physically and emotionally. Sadly, the protagonist realizes the relationship may be fleeting. And yet, she concludes, the fantasy that true love lasts forever is one that is worth embracing:
the fantasy is not to be dismissed
or will we live without knowing
what we missed
Throughout Objet a Ellefsen deals with both the worldly concerns of love and relationships and the more cosmic musings as to the nature of human identity and self. She does not view these as polar opposites, but more like mirror images of the same thing. Consider the two songs “Fever Dream”, which is ostensibly about a man with addictions to alcohol and tobacco, and “Beast”, which is an allegory about a creature (perhaps vampiric?). In Ellefsen’s hands these two tales converge when viewed through the lens of metarealism. The framework of a human relationship, with its attendant healing powers, makes the plight of the addicted man a metaphor and the nature of a mythical beast a reality.
But let’s get back to the music. Thanks to mournful guitar and eerie keyboards, the overall tone is one of murky gloom. That is not to say that things are morbid and depressing; it is more the sense of trepidation that comes with looking into the vast maw of the unknown. Ellefsen may be there to guide us down the path but it is a spooky one nevertheless. This spookiness is not alleviated by her vocals either – it can be disquieting to hear a masculine sing-speak voice on “Abyss of Potentials” or the low growl on “Help Me To Embrace”. Even when Ellefson sings in her more normal higher pitch she often engages in some creepy harmonies (e.g. “Not The Marrying Type”).
Objet a succeeds because Ellefson deftfully melds both the worldly and the cosmic on the lyrical side, and the experimental and the accessible on the musical side. Indeed, the music here is refreshingly unique even though it is in a territory that is not entirely unfamiliar.
Top Tracks: “Help Me To Embrace”; “Beast”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)