Jarboe Cuts Through the Illusions

It’s more than a control thing. Jarboe writes the music, the words, records it, and mixes it. She’s picky, yet not bothered by mistakes. She doesn’t want her music sounding too glossy. It has to be raw – even off. Being deliberately confrontational or tapping into a place of pain or discomfort is what she wants to do.

Exuding a transfusion of abstract voices and hypnotic soundscapes, Jarboe captures what she wants on the seven entrancing tracks of her new album, Illusory, out today on CD, vinyl (both from the Consouling Sounds store) and on streaming and downloading platforms. Fluid from start to finish, Jarboe’s vocals flit through Illusory as some of the figurative and literal voices in her head fight to escape. Throughout, she releases each in differing tonality and dialects, insinuating more than one singer.

Playing like scratchy a silent film score, “Illusory” explores the illusion of self-perception through a haunting and cinematic lilt of sometimes incomprehensible words, vowels, and sounds, all ending on a quick draw of the breath. At moments, there’s a haunting stillness to comprehend Jarboe’s intention. Sounding as if she’s stood inside a bare cathedral, eerie echoes spew through a cacophony of chants on “Arrival” and the more operatic drones of “Flight.” Using sounds she recorded while touring with Father Murphy in Europe, “Cathedral” captures the delicate sound of water dripping inside a church, surrounding by a mess of outside noise – tours, cell phones, and a choir. Illusory closes on “Man of Hate,” a ghostly and stirring modification of a song Jarboe originally recorded for her 1991 solo debut, Thirteen Masks, unraveling a corrupt leader and questioning the circumstances (and people) that brought him to power.

Evocative and hypnotically jarring throughout, Illusory is a reflective and visceral piece of work.