TICKLEY FEATHER: Tickley Feather (Paw Tracks)


Posted on May 2nd 2008 12:47 am

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Tickley Feather: Tickley Feather

Tickley Feather
Paw Tracks 2008
20 Tracks. 33mins53secs

Parenting has never been the sort of topic that easily lends itself to good music. In fact, it’s often the sort of thing that comes around when a musician leaves behind a rock and roll soaked youth as they approach quieter, less turbulent – less musically interesting – times. That at least is one way of looking at things.

Annie Sachs, though, a single mother and the woman behind Tickley Feather – the latest addition to the Paw Tracks roster – is with this album taking an entirely different tack altogether. Putting together an assortment of Casio-crafted four-tracks during late nights spent at home with her young son, with this debut she holds up a weird, distorted mirror on the world of raising children. Lonely and innocent in equal measure, the album could be about anything, so hard to unpick are the half-whispered lyrics, but the sense of an artist working at the margins is undeniable.

Yet what given the circumstances could have been a mournful dirge ends up being something far more refreshing. What we get is an inscrutable but frequently joyful soundtrack to her world, with songs that whirr opaquely into life before abruptly superseding one another. And it doesn’t take long to realise that we are in for something a little different – only a few seconds, in fact. Opener I’ve Got Magic Inside My Bones Somewhere is an eerie spoken word prelude, featuring her son’s distant, echoing voice reading the song’s title in slow motion. It’s the first of several rather sinister intervals featuring the young boy, and each helps give the album a playful and yet somehow rather unsettling quality.

This album will of course help to raise her profile, but until now she has kept things very low-key. There may have been gigs with the Animal Collective, but apart from a couple of split 7” releases, there has so far been little in the way of output to tee us up for this album. In fact, the obscurity almost seems a natural consequence of her musical style: she told one interviewer that half of this debut was recorded in a leaky garage filled with golf carts. As beginnings go, it’s not the most glamorous, but this spiky, slanted cocktail of noise will probably win enough of us over to at least allow her bigger digs.

What we get then is a rich and occasionally bewitching hotchpotch of leftfield anti-pop. There may be rather too many fugitive pieces of no real consequence, but there are several highlights, from the enigmatic The Python to the plaintive, elusive Keyboards Is Drunk. Each track’s template of cheap keyboards and muttered vocals does however begin to grate after a while. It is quintessential lo-fi Paw Tracks, but one does yearn for a change of gear from time to time. Is there more to her voice, for instance, that the bargain basement equipment here fails to delineate? And beyond a sort of naive charm, is there more to her sound than endless variations on what sound at times like pre-programmed demo tracks?

Time will tell of course. But for starters this certainly has promise. It’s the question of where she goes next that is interesting. Drop the lo-fi overtones and she risks unbalancing the character of her sound. Keep things the same, though, and the patience of the listener may begin to wane.


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