Review Summary: minimalist folk from one of our favourite voices.
With the entirety of Trespassers William
’s musical repertoire behind her, Anna-Lynne Williams’ solo work certainly has high expectations to meet – fortunately for both her and her fans, the combination of Williams’ voice together with any pluck of strings holds an immeasurable level of poignancy, and Williams’ record under the moniker of Lotte Kestner is no exception to this ‘Anna-Lynne rule’. China Mountain
strays somewhat from the established Trespassers William sound, discarding most slowcore and shoegaze elements in favour of a minimal folk aesthetic. The record is continually gentle and cohesive – with more than often naught but an acoustic guitar behind her (and sometimes not even that), a huge emphasis is placed on Williams’ voice, perhaps more so than one would expect on any Trespassers William album. Still, despite the similarities that come with the same vocalist, Lotte Kestner is enough removed from its past to be refreshing all while reaching out tenderly to any Williams fan.
The majority of the record is very minimal and slow moving, driven by subtle changes in atmosphere. Unlike any Trespassers William release, China Mountain
can be immediately satisfying yet still takes some time to grow on the listener – Different Stars
on the otherhand, struck home almost immediately. It is perhaps wise for Williams fans to be wary when coming into China Mountain
; heartfelt melodies and wistful moments are much more understated, and are only uncovered with some degree of delving. Nevertheless, the mid-portion of the record rises out of its general slow moving surge with two instantly appealing tracks, namely ‘Leif Erikson’ and ‘Temperature’. The arrangements of these are typical of China Mountain
’s restrained composition, but, particularly in the case of ‘Leif Erikson’, still hint at a certain urgency of emotion. What could possibly be the album’s only downside is the overall lack of this urgency throughout the record, though this may have been Williams’ original intention – it’s sometimes hard to keep in mind that she isn’t recording another Trespassers William album.
What China Mountain
essentially does is showcase yet another facet of Anna-Lynne Williams’ talent – any Trespassers William fan will no doubt be satisfied with another 11 tracks of Williams’ voice, and as a placid folk album China Mountain
does more than firmly secure its own place.