Ethereal Art Pop Burns Expectations
The overtly spiritual packaging for Metal Mother’s new LP Bonfire Diaries suggests that you’re either in for some angry metal, or a hokey world music compilation.
Imagine my surprise when Bonfire Diaries turned out to be neither. Metal Mother, or the often facepainted Oakland pianist/singer Tara Tati, produced an album of tight, ethereal art pop filled with Bjork avant ambiance, Kate Bush drama, and tense Celtic underpinnings that steam up from the underworld. Whether by accident or not, Tati, like Bat for Lashes, has reinvented metal aesthetics for the sake of dark, tribal folk pop.
The main ingredient in the album is Tati’s capable soprano. Ditching the warrior guise, Tati slurs and drapes the album with the warm, washed-out vocal lightness of Purity Ring. Her arbitrary tunes compete with chill, amorphous soundscapes and dark folk drumming, which always congeal into pleasant pop beats. The last track, “Billy Cruz” is a charming anomaly due to its accessible Afropop melody.
Bonfire Diaries doesn’t “dissolve expectations of greatness or failure,” as Tati’s site promises. It’s not a “raw offering of maternaline metallescence” which will in turn “seduce the wicked out of the garden,” (I’m pretty wicked and I still enjoy a good garden. And is maternaline like Ovaltine?) but it is a very solid body of atmospheric pop that would certainly thrill a yoga studio — and the unstretched masses, too.