Jordan Reyne is a multitalented musician whose universe is compelling, complex and original. A true DIY artist, she uses technology to produce her music, on her own in her home studio, and generously shares experiences and technical tips via regular newsletters and blogs. First and foremost experimental, Jordan manages to escape categories: her work encompasses dark folk, Celtic, industrial, electronic and steampunk, but her influences go way beyond those genres.
I can detect a writer’s approach beyond the music: there is a solid narrative core here, fuelled by imagination, research and observation; Ms Reyne’s albums are full of places, characters and ‘found sounds’ that intertwine to tell stories that focus on the human experience and condition, an approach both anthropological and philosophical. Her two most recent albums were set in the past – How The Dead Live was about the pioneer women who arrived in New Zealand in the mid-19th century and Children of a Factory Nation was set at the time of the Industrial Revolution.
For The Annihilation Sequence, the musician has come back to the present time and set her eyes and ears on London, a monster of a city that attracts and repels all at the same time. This is not some kind of psychogeographical album; it captures personal experiences and deals with the way the metropolis can play havoc with human interaction and exacerbate one’s flaws and desire for recognition. Dark, brooding electronics have replaced the industrial, more mechanical flavours of previous releases. As ever, Jordan’s vocals are an important feature of the album: expressive and versatile, they carry the mood of each track: sinister and dangerous, soothing and seductive, hurt and defensive…
First track The Annihilation Sequence features martial drum beats and a sample of a speech by British Prime Minister David Cameron. It sets the tone for the album: everything in life is political, and we are either exploiter or exploited. Then a series of nameless urban characters enter the frame; each could represent a concept or a facet of the human character: The Player, The Gentleman, The Narcissus, The Cab Driver. The first three are themselves the twisted actors on the London stage of life. The Cab Driver takes us on an evocative drive around the West End. The cabbie represents the everyday man witnessing the unravelling of the action and detects the shallowness behind the glamour of his clients; despite his lucidity, he cannot help looking into his rear mirror and turns into a voyeur. The twisted electronics and sharp spoken word in The Player convey a build-up of tension and pent-up aggression; The Narcissus is splendid and disturbing, swathed in sexual malaise. Jordan’s acoustic guitar is back for The Gentleman – a beautiful song introducing us to an aristocratic Marquis de Sade character – as well as for the hypnotic Pieces of Me.
Bite (The Hand that feeds) is written like a folk story in which lost humans appeal to their absent god for guidance in a traditional-sounding prayer and The Wall evokes a bigger sense of fate, with fluid synthetic sounds and ethereal vocals that reminded me of some of Björk’s songs. Here again, we can sense the pervasive sense of history that has shaped Jordan Reyne’s previous releases.
The Annihilation Sequence is a bewitching, powerful and chilling album by one of the most interesting artists around; it’s one of those releases that you listen to again and again, just marvelling at how it came to be.