Imogen Heap - Speak For Yourself
Imogen Heap is another example of underground British talent breaking the states before we finally catch on over here. Having signed a record deal whilst still a teenager and going on to work on countless collaborations (including being one half of Frou Frou with producer Guy Sigsworth) Speak For Yourself is only Imogen's second solo full length release. A lot of her success is due to the internet, and MySpace in particular, in fact 40% of her total sales are digital, a huge figure considering the average of 10% for most other artists.
Imogen's music strikes a balance between catchy pop hooks and quirky experimental electronica. Whilst being an incredibly talented producer and composer, Imogen stands out from the crowd by also being a singer blessed with a charismatic and versatile voice. Her CD is entirely self produced and recorded in her studio in her house (which she had to re-mortgage to pay for the album!) and the year taken to finish it has been entirely worth it.
The album opens with a collection of sounds that could be anything from someone tapping a pint glass with a spoon, to an expensive synth called something like 'Crystal 4000' or 'Moonbeam'. That's the beauty of the intricate sounds which are littered throughout the CD: you're never quite sure where they came from, they remind you of something but you're never sure what, and all the time you're being drawn further and further into the musical world Imogen has lovingly crafted. Drum beats sometimes feel like they're talking to you, and the intricate rhythms of blips and tweaks make a welcome change from the usual pop four to the floor monotony. Ethereal guitars provide lush textures whilst Imogen's voice picks out haunting melodies, sometimes reminiscent of something between Kate Bush and Dido.
After listening to the first four tracks you'll be smiling, possibly tapping your foot and definitely congratulating yourself on a purchase well made, and then suddenly your CD player will hit track 5 and your heart will stop. Hide and Seek is possibly the most beautiful thing I have heard in a very long time. A track composed entirely of vocals, which have been processed by the studio gear that Angels use to make music delivered straight from a cloud on high. You may have heard it on an advert or TV show soundtrack in brief, but listening to the sultry vocals and complex shifting harmonies of Hide and Seek will take you to another place for a perfect four minutes and twenty eight seconds. A perfect remedy for a bad day at work or just to chill out to.
Having been completely blown away, track 6 'Clear the Area' gently eases you back to reality with some chilled beats and more smooth vocals before Daylight Robbery picks you up and gets back to the rocky vibe with power chords and uptempo glitches. This album has such an eclectic mix of styles and moods that everyone should be able to take something away from it that truly touches you. Repeated listens will be needed as you peel away the layers of sound to find simply beautiful songs at the core. Buy this for your mum, buy it for your best mate, buy it for yourself.