Shades of a Vast Moment by Void’s Anatomy (Review)

Jorge’s songs pirouette on the edge of an abyss, her delicate voice seemingly quite outmatched by the long, dark night of the soul that she faces.
Shades of a Vast Moment - Void's Anatomy

The music on Void’s Anatomy’s debut album, Shades of a Vast Moment, often reminds me of a darker, more dolorous version of Amy Annelle’s fractured folk-pop. Like Annelle, singer/songwriter Marie Jorge has a voice that is surprisingly strong for all of its breathiness, and it has a unique way of wrapping its tendrils about the fragments of your subsconsious, regardless of whether she sings in French and English.

But whereas Annelle’s songs ramble, tramp-like, through broken, faded snapshots of Americana, Jorge’s songs pirouette on the edge of an abyss, her delicate voice seemingly quite outmatched by the long, dark night of the soul that she faces.

Jorge sings “Words we speak are empty/No light, no solace to share… Up to now, there is nothing left/Outside the wind is killing what’s left” on the opening track, setting the somber tone that permeates much of the album. A light piano melody dances its way through the song, but its lightness seems almost morbid and even mocking when compared to the song’s mournful cello and synth strings.

The lethargic guitars, languid keys, and conversational snippets that make up the musical backdrop of “Life Sleeps” is quite appropriate for Jorge’s tale of spiritual unrest and exhaustion. The song captures tiny details — a pile of unmade clothes on the bed, for instance — but the ennui dispels any notions that the song is purely observational.

“Consuming ads makes me want to throw up/And I’m tired to see within or without/Between flashes of your face,” “Blaming others is an easy way out/I’m tired to drink words that bypass the heart/Fading essense outrunned by doubt” — the ennui in Jorge’s song is almost palpable, with a faint echo of heartache about it all.

Occasionally, a faint glimmer of light pierces the gloominess. Jorge is joined by fellow Placid Surge member David Gendron on “Merging Twilights.” Their light voices merge into a conversation of sorts, seemingly attempting to strengthen each other with words such as “I have no say when the sun comes up again/Light climbing up walls/Wrapping us on its way and shining again,” as electronic programming and fuzzy synths roll and unfold around them.

However, the brief respite is over as soon as the aptly-titled “Void” begins unfolding. “Void” starts off innocuously enough, with a sparse acoustic guitar and some glitchy electronics settling around like dusk falling on a countryside. However, the lyrics, as usual, betray the mood as Jorge sings of failed relationships and broken hearts. Not the most original subject matter to be sure, but Jorge’s seemingly understated treatment is rather disarming, even with such lyrics as “Swallow me as I’m cold/I got no more breath to take anyway.”

However, the drums come in at the midpoint, their starkness almost pummelling compared the earlier tranquil sounds, and the lonely fate contained within the lyrics suddenly becomes crushing, doubly desperate and inescapable. Even as Jorge’s voice grows more insistent, crying out “Forgive me for I loved you so strong,” the song continues its downward spiral, pulling Jorge down along with it.

Truth be told, there are moments on Shades of a Vast Moment where the album’s somber tone becomes a bit too weighty and portentous, even maudlin. As a result, the distinctions between all of album’s very atmospheric songs do begin to blur a little, everything running together a bit too much.

However, because the album’s core always remains with Jorge’s voice, the delicateness of which provides an often stirring contrast to the dark, roiling, turbulent sounds that surround it, even potentially irksome lyrics such as “Your words fell over me like dead stars… Now only lives the dead part of you” are rendered with a fragile beauty.

Her voice does allow a few fragments of light to pierce the album, fragments that finally coalesce by the album’s end. An e-bow keens off in the distance as “Our Morning” begins, fending off the metallic squalls and rumblings that exist on the song’s periphery. In that safe place, illuminated by gently shimmering guitar tones, Jorge sings the album’s most hopeful words (“My faith is celebrating/For what my soul is touching/And it flows, and it flows”). The drums sound out of the calm, but this time there’s something faintly triumphant about their solemn march.

The darkness is still there, and is still strong. But hope, faith, and redemption are there as well, and don’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Which, considering the heavy darkness, angst, and heartache that Jorge (and the listener) have just wandered through, becomes all the more affecting.

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