The promotional material for Red Painted Red’s 4-track "Pathway" EP confidently announces that Yvonne Neve’s and Simon Carroll’s latest project “sits boldly astride many different genres”, with “loose critical comparisons made to Swans, Kate Bush, Portishead, Gudrun Gut, PJ Harvey, Bjork, My Bloody Valentine, Jarboe, Tori Amos, Tarwater, This Mortal Coil, trip hop, noise, ethereal…” My, that is a quite lot to live up to – a veritable music soup of influences and styles.
– And it does live up, kinda.
Unfortunately I just don’t have a lot to say about this one so I’ll keep it brief. The first track, "Pathway", is a decent blend of some disparate elements – experimental electronic intro, piano, a few sparse, lush picked guitar chords, darkly laid-back synth beats interspersed with scratchy noises that sound like alley dogs barking in the night at different frequencies, then cue the femme fatale vocals of Neve as she cooly and matter-of-factly states, “I can’t sleep tonight as it crawls over me.” Neve’s vocals are evocative of the vocal caressing of Jarboe and Amos. I start feeling a little edgy and unhinged as I listen to this slick seduction, as Neve asserts, “yeah, I’ll keep you friend”.
This is a very short EP and a good start as the first in what will be a trilogy of EPs. The sleeve insert of song lyrics printed on a thick square piece of paper is reminiscent in feel and design to a 4-year old’s finger painting in scarlet lipstick, and certainly does not go astray as I ponder the lyrics. Ultimately, these four tracks come up a little short of inspired or transcendent when compared to the aforementioned traditions and artists. Without meaning to be discouraging, I have to be honest in saying that I feel like these tracks are a recombination of many other dark pop/goth/trip hop songs that I’ve heard over the last decade or so (Jane Sibery and Switchblade Symphony did this almost operatic vocal style so well). The music really does pivot around the vocals, and I’m just not sure how well they stand up when compared to the strength and fullness of Jarboe, Amos, Sibery etc, therefore any comparisons must be loose. I will be interested to see how Red Painted Red develop their own sound over the next few years and set themselves apart from their influences.
Maybe this EP will grow on me but for now 6/10 -- Alex Kakafikas (17 December, 2008)