An exploration of warped, dream like atmosphere and taught, noise-ingrained electronics, Paper Dollhouse has evolved from the solo work of Astrud Steehouder into an expansive, cinematic project now involving visual artist Nina Bosnic. Recorded with a stronger focus on electronic processes and with a deeper, light starved aesthetic, Aeonflower’s emboldened use of crushed-noise dynamics takes the London-based group’s debut A Box Painted Black frame into darker, murkier and more thrilling territory.
Aeonflower is the slow decent of a newly discorporated spirit into a fogged, neon lagoon, a drowned world still lit. If the first LP was a box of raw secrets with hints of obscured folk roots, Aeonflower is the endless rain of expression, experience and change. On this outing both artists’ vocals are expressive, forgoing complex lyrical concerns for minimal text invested with emotive power. Opener Oracle bleeds into Stand, the first of Steehouder’s haunted vocals, a fragile minimalism augmented with barren guitar. Helios sees a drum machine kick and ride cymbal pin down an dark, enveloping vocal duet until Psyche obliterates it all with billowing noise, a thrilling shock to the system.
The swirling synths and suppressed emotion of Your Heart peak in the centerpiece Diane, a shadowy piece highlighting Steehouder’s minimalist approach. Side two acts as a mini-suite, with Diamanda Galas-inspired vocal abstractions and walls of sound coming down with stand out ambient track Black Flowers. Dark and light interplay beautifully on album closer Siren, a turbulent if ambiguous build -up of harmony and noise.