An Hopeless Place by Tears|Ov

Tears|Ov | An Hopeless Place
The Wormhole (LP/DL)

An ominous riff, concrete sounds from the outer world, voices almost unhuman. This is the soundscape that welcomes us at the very start of A hopeless place, Tears|Ov’s last work. This female trio, active since 2015, debuts on The Wormhole – Tapeworm format-free sublabel – as a result of a commission for a concert by the German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans. The three artists Lori E Allen, Katie Spafford and Deborah Wale, had already been working together at the time of the production of Lori E Allen first cassette “Tears of the material vulture”. That collaboration can be seen as the spark that launched their new project.

Free improvisation is here, once again, the main writing process. But this time loops take a bigger role, becoming the backbone of the compositional act. They set moods and, together with the nature of vocals in between monstrous suggestions and teasing caresses, nail the composition down to the realm of songwriting. This of course creates expectations that are ready to be unattended, as the trio jumps in and out the frame they established, providing an identity for this album that is together strong but unattainable. 

The songs are characterized by happening in different phases and contrast is definitely one of the main methods for this to be realized. Cut ups alternate between different photographs, depictions of chronologically non-subsequent moments. But all these alternations happen without stressing the contrasting element in the contrapositions and every new figure holds a perfect coherence with the previous one. The role of stitching up all these moments together, as snaps from the same late-night party, is interpreted by the cello. By opening up for different sets of emotions and harmonic changes, it mitigates the dualistic tendency of the collages and joins all the tracks of the album into a single, unpredictable but familiar thread.

I was very pleasantly surprised by this record, that I didn’t expect it touching me so deeply. Despite some sonic elements that might draw too many signifiers from existing musical aesthetics such as industrial and dark wave, the trio is very able to make all suggestion collapse with sprinkles of pure genius and to open up for reflections about crossover genres and music identity.

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