Review Summary: I will heal you all the fuck out of me.
Isn’t it funny? The more you try to reach for the future, the more you end up reaching to your past. Otherwise, how would you portray a future you haven’t lived? How are those expectations going to be sculpted in your mind if you haven’t got the experience that you need to base them on? It’s a maddening thought, a fragile and ephemeral moment in the here and now that has the immense power of changing the course of your whole life, that is, provided you have the willpower to touch those liminal strings that weave your fate; their resonance will do the rest.
For Chelsea Wolfe, the time to die and be reborn came during the years we thought the world would end. The seeds of this album were planted around 2020, they grew strongly and aggressively during 2021 with the help of Wolfe’s inner circle: Ben Chisholm, Jess Gowrie and Bryan Tulao, her core band. The following tour for her previous album, Birth of Violence
, and Wolfe collaborating in different projects like the Bloodmoon album with Converge, or the soundtrack for the film X
along with Tyler Bates, buried these songs on a temporal limbo. It wasn’t until Wolfe took these songs to producer and TV on the Radio co-founder Dave Sitek in 2022 that the image of a new album started to take shape. Sitek worked with Wolfe and the band to mold the songs into something unpredictable. In doing that, Wolfe found herself relinquishing control, and her offspring was born anew in a way she didn’t foresee. The future became present, and She Reaches Out To She Reaches Out To She
, her long awaited new full length, finally came to be.
A new cycle begins with this album. If 2019’s Birth of Violence
saw Chelsea Wolfe revisiting her folk roots through intimate bedroom recordings that called back to her roots in Unknown Rooms
, this new album would place her where I first found her: The Abyss
The past becomes the present and the future brings back the past. The only difference is that Wolfe this time is fully aware of it. After spending half her life being half-present, sobriety and a newfound love for witchcraft have brought her a feeling of presence and awareness she had lost for a very long time. And this is something that is tangible in the ten tracks included in this new album. There’s an incredible attention to detail, especially in how Wolfe and Sitek have worked out the vocals alongside mixboard maestro Shawn Everett, well known for his work with names like Slowdive, SZA or Alvvays to name a few. ASMR has played a crucial role in the way Wolfe has approached her singing this time, which is not a surprise considering she’s been doing ASMR videos for a while now, but her bewitching melodies are only the beginning, as there is much to unfold in She Reaches Out To...
and words will never be enough.
I could talk about this album forever, as if sometimes I feel like she was reading my mind when crafting some of these songs. I mentioned I first heard the music of Chelsea Wolfe in 2015’s Abyss
, which for me has always been her most authentic record. Well, as cycles go, She Reaches Out...
echoes greatly the Chelsea Wolfe of Abyss
. The synthetic gloom that conformed the exoskeleton of that album is the fabric that keeps together the different ideas that dwell on this album. She has taken it even further diving fully into trip hop and electronic music, as you may have guessed by the singles, while also preserving, even if in very moderate doses, the heavier doom of Hiss Spun
I understand now why she unveiled the songs the way she did, starting with those two that open and close the album: the explosive “Whispers in the Echo Chamber”, which symbolizes her confrontation with her present self until finally breaking free (you can hear a dry and sharp “done” at the end of the song), and the fantastic closing track “Dusk”. The two other singles belong to the first half and serve as a slide into the thick and spellbinding density of She Reaches Out...
. There are several moments in the entrails of this album that will only start to surface when you become intimate with them, but shrouded in modest light, and right before the grand finale that is “Dusk”, there’s a little but extremely powerful song titled “Place in the Sun” that, to put it bluntly, it absolutely wrecked my fucking spirit from the very first time I heard it. I’ll leave it at that.
She Reaches Out To She Reaches Out To She
marks a turning point for the American songstress in her personal life, and at the same time, it recovers her essence in every sense of the word. The lack of folk or acoustic songs will be a disenchantment for some, but considering she has released a whole album of that ilk just a few years ago, it’s only natural that her growth would take her in the direction that this album has taken her. It’s a triumphant rebirth, pulsating and healing dark energy that feels inspiring and genuine. An adventure, as she would say, into the dark side of the moon, the unknown, and even the irrational, as the vivid imagery of her videos have so eloquently portrayed.
Children of the Abyss, rejoice, your Queen is home.