Track Review: Motion Sickness of Time Travel – “Black Umbrella”

[Sic Sic; 2013]

Current leading lady of drone Rachel Evans has a new tape out on German experimental label SicSic. It’s more minimal electronic drone with ethereal layers of Evans’s siren-like vocals. What’s interesting here, however, is the shape the drones take. Opening track “Black Umbrella,” for instance, is surprisingly dynamic for a MSoTT work. If you’ve ever wondered what she’d might sound like on Raster-Norton, now you know: buzzes, glitches, and clicks mingle with the drones of both her synths and her vocal chords to produce what might be the liveliest of her songs to date.

At five and a half minutes, this is hardly the kind of stargazing epic we saw on her self-titled album last year, but it still represents a step forward for her nonetheless. “Black Umbrella,” impressively, is something we haven’t heard from Rachel Evans before–a drone track that’s anything but static or glacial–yet it’s still so very clearly her, a sign that she’s become so comfortable with her trademark sound that she can drastically alter it while retaining its essence. Alva Noto fans, take note: this one’s for you.