Miranda Lehman - Shipwrecks & Russian Roulette
Lo-Fi Psych-Folk
10 songs (32:50)
Release year: 2005
Miranda Lehman
Reviewed by Misha

The day lies fresh in memory that we were shocked with Velvet Cacoon’s Genevieve, the so called first released album tailing a long row of raw black metal and ambient minimalism. The band went clouded in rumours, leaving stories about ecofascism, self-invented instruments (the dieselharp) and extreme live shows in its wake. As black metal is a genre oversensitive to mystery, breathing on her account, the marketing method could not have been more appropriate. Later their cloak of lies fell, and left only a sarcastic mirror to view. After their moments of dark ambient, they released two demos which served as scarecrows for most of their true black metal fan-base. Just recently, the band admitted that these demos are fake, and that How The Last Day Came And Stayed Then Faded Into Simulated Rain is actually a full-length called Shipwrecks & Russian Roulette by Miranda Lehman, whose online samples and incredible artwork were misused by the band’s odd quest for confusion.

Shipwrecks & Russian Roulette simulates the mood of a hazy jazz-club that knew its glory once, but now faded into perceptual non-existence. Three social rejects drown their ghosts in its cause, watching the underpaid act that is this album. Amplified by a 19th century production, complete with background noise, droning feedback and muddy piano, it seems as if these irregularities are used as an additional instrument. The underwater recording is essential for the atmosphere, a low budget emphasising the Prozac mood. All is mainly just a monochrome voice and a piano, sometimes backed up by a mouth harmonica. As simple and continuous as it is in essence, it is as effective in result. Miranda’s lazy yet very emotional vocals seem layered on top of themselves at times, yet still sound as one. The piano works out melodies that are seemingly simple, emotion- rather than tempo-driven and odd structures of melodies that flow from weird little twists of previous melodies, making it almost sound erratic. It is a peculiar compliment to this dreadful mood, sometimes lush, sometimes tense. For comparisons, think of CocoRosie without the childish vocals and the beatboxing, the Dresden Dolls without the typical dark cabaret quasi-bombast, later Tin Hat Trio if more piano oriented or a less light-hearted Kurt Weill. In a personal perspective, while great melancholic albums like some of Yann Tiersen’s make their sadness stream abundantly through the body, this is an album that leaves some of it behind in the process. And that is a rare quality.

Killing Songs :
Misha quoted 90 / 100
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