Kranky – 2020

LA based ambient artist Ana Roxanne returns with the follow up to 2015’s ‘~~~‘. An album that was originally released by Roxanne on her own and largely kept to herself out of fear of reaction. Later being re-released last year by Leaving Records after founder Matthew David was sent the album by one of Roxanne’s friends. This re-release saw Roxanne reach new levels of fandom, especially on Bandcamp as it was named their 11th best album of the year. 2019 also saw Roxanne tour as support for Weyes Blood on her winter European tour, allowing her to demonstrate her intricate live capability. Crafted over the course of 5 years, Because Of A Flower sees Roxanne seek to understand identity, after coming out as an intersex person last year and try to put to capture the spirit and dexterity of humanity through vibrant sonic movements.

The album opens with Roxanne reading samples of a passage by composer W.A. Mathieu about the multiplication of life. As the samples are slowly read out, they layer begin to layer on top of each other, literally multiplying, mimicking the words Roxanne is reading. “The spirit of harmony, as it condenses, produces all beings”. Roxanne’s use of samples allows this album to become connected with nature, intertwined within the sounds until both wouldn’t feel whole without the other. The opening of “Venus” sees Roxanne read an ode to water as samples of flowing water wash around the background. Transitioning into deep meditational swells and harmonies as Roxanne sings of being adrift personally “I lost my way, where do i stand”. Whilst it is the longest track on the album, it certainly never feels like it. Constantly shifting and swaying through different vocal melodies or adding glittering samples of electronic notes it stays in constant flux; mirroring a line at the opening of the song, “Forever changing form, but not essence”.

One of the greatest aspects of this album is Roxanne’s ability to evoke deep memories through her sound design. As the arpeggiated melodies and deep swells of sound on “- – -” dance and glide around each other, vivid memories or images come into your head. With the sound traveling about in an almost cyclical fashion it reminds of being on a long journey, watching the world pass by, continuing to come close and then fall past you as you move through it. And the enticing electronic groove and downbeat synth chords of “Camille” motion you into the feeling of walking along a lamp lit street late at night, the buildings passing by as you a deep emotion of regret washes over you. This emotion also comes out within the samples of an argument Roxanne chooses to use. The vintage sound of them feels as though you are replaying the memory over in your head as you walk away from it. All whilst Roxanne sings “I want to feel your warm embrace”, the regret flowing over and overpowering the memories you have. Roxanne uses her own experiences and emotions to delicately induce these feelings within the listener through her simple yet brilliantly woven sonic patterns.

The main sound of ‘~~~’ was deep ambient swells and chants that focused on Roxanne’s heavenly harmonies and vocal stacks. This sound makes a return in the form of “A Study In Vastness” as Roxanne’s voice is used in both a bouncing melody and in the deep ambient, almost medieval chanting vocal layers. Every sound ebbs and flows through the vast, hauntingly beautiful soundscape being carried always by Roxanne’s voice. And on “Suite Pour L’invisible” the steady mellotron and climbing guitar line feels inspired by the iconic sound of Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks soundtrack, having previously covered Julie Cruise’s “The World Spins” from the show, with Roxanne adding layers glistening vocals to carry the sound into new dimensions. These deep, swirling hauntingly beautiful vocal layers are the binding force of this album. No matter where the sonic movements are going, or whatever mood they are trying to convey, Roxanne’s vocals are there to guide them along with an almost unchallenged ease.

Control over the simplest sounds and bringing them centre stage is what Roxanne excels in, and time and time again on this album do they come into the spotlight with full conviction. Like a painter adding strokes to a canvas, Roxanne allows each colour, or sound, to breath and become within itself bold. Finding beauty in the minimal.

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