Review Summary: All the forbidden rites of dark folk compiled in one single album.
In the world of Emily Jane White, the wind usually carries a scent of death. It filters through the cracks of a decrepit wooden shack where a pile of corpses feeds the soil with the remnants of rotten skin. She contemplates the sombre scene from the top of the hill, drinking red wine to the stars and humming forbidden songs. These tunes are hereby collected as Immanent Fire
, her newest release for French independent label Talitres, and an ode to the imminent destruction of everything that we know.
I suggest you picture the scene above before the first notes start to pour out of your speakers. You'll hear a murky, handpicked acoustic quickly filling the space in the opening track, "Surrender", with White's soothing, phantasmagorical voice singing woeful melodies over a wide array of instruments, ranging from solemn piano chords to a guitar howling from the darkest pits of America. The neoclassical feel of some of her previous works arrives, somehow abruptly, with "Drowned", a short and graceful waltz that inaugurates what it sounds like a "soirée" for vampires preparing for a feast of blood under a red moon. "Infernal" is a more electric driven tune, reigned by a dying beat, while airing everything you would expect from the dark folk book of sorrows: cello, ghostly chants, and clavichords, all in good and generous measure.
While the resemblance with Birth of Violence
, the most recent release of the immensely popular and spiritual goth sister Chelsea Wolfe, is uncanny, (take the first words of "Metamorphosis" as an example), it's no secret than Emily Jane White's roots have always ran parallel to those of Wolfe, since both started their career around the end of 200,6 coming out of some old dusty coffin in California. While Wolfe has explored a wider range of styles, from the extremely lo-fi spirit of The Grime and the Glow
to the hardened doom sound of Hiss Spun
, White's discography has always retained a more consistent approach that recalls at times the pastoral, witch-like soundscapes of Julianna Barwick, the delicate melancholy of Marissa Nadler and the unholy majesty of Swedish organ goddess Anna Von Hausswolff.
With 6 full-lengths under her pillow, Emily Jane White has proved in abundance she's not second to any of these other artists. Her ability to create images with sounds is undeniable, and she is extremely resourceful in building these little windows to the different rooms of every haunting album she writes. In songs like "Dew", she relies on the sole company of an intimate piano for most of the track whereas, in contrast, she adopts a more powerful and ambitious scope to convery the gothic greatness of a track like "Shroud".
Some of her other contemporary influences appear in "Entity", a short, brighter song where White briefly takes the listener to the fantastic realm of Danish singer and composer Agnes Obel, where picked violins and roaring cellos are usual company. The first single off Immanent Fire
, "Light", returns the album to the cold, ash-filled setting of the first track with a heavy pounding epic ballad, before concluding seamlessly with the aptly-named "The Gates at the End".
With Immanent Fire
, Emily Jane White revitalizes and preserves this branch of occult, gloomy Americana that once stemmed from 80s neofolk well into this century, and it does so deftly and graciously, carefully putting this decade to the eternal sleep of time in a yet warm shallow grave.