Bat For LashesEdit this event
- Koko, Camden Town »
Natasha Khan - for it is she that hides behind the Bat For Lashes_ nom de plume_ - projects a persona of absolute kookiness: the glittering facial adornments, the awkward body shape as she floats from position to position on Koko's sizeable stage, the way she mumbles commands between songs, most of which fall upon deaf ears. Yet her music is anything but trivial or incongruous. It's music to realign continents that drifted apart too many years ago to count, music to repair the most petite-but-painful hairline fracture of the soul.
While many a singer-songwriter is concerned with tales of heartstrings snapping, Khan's voice is one that resonates with reconstructive powers - her audience, come the release of debut album Fur And Gold in September, will not be comprised of me-me-me mourners bemoaning their latest break-up, but of those concerned solely with the stitching of wounds and covering of collapsed hopes and dreams; of those wishing to skip the wallowing process entirely. Previous comparisons to both Björk and Kate Bush aren't so wide of the mark so far as her wavering vocals are concerned - although never does she open her lungs with the unbridled power, the unabashed celebratory cry, of Ms Guðmundsdóttir - but Khan's music skitters and slides across endless glaciers and weaves through overgrown fantasy forests: this is instrumentation to coerce intellectuals to put down their textbooks and dip into the work of Richard Adams, Tolkien and even Enid Blyton; music that necessitates the conjuring in the mind's eye of the most fantastical parallel-dimension planes.
With minimal percussion and delicate melodies, it's Khan's voice - delivered with head tipped back, eyes sparkling as brightly as the faux jewels beneath them - that steals this support show, and that very almost pulls the rug from under Low's upcoming run-through of Things We Lost In The Fire (for the sake of completion, the trio - fleshed to a five-piece - are fantastic, but little needs to be said about a band, and album, of such well-documented brilliance) in the race for the evening's overall highlight. The quivers and shivers that are emitted from her insides are reciprocated in the audience's reception - many attendees simply stand, statuesque and stunned, in perfect silence as she unleashes half-formed words from fairy tales yet to be penned, from epic romances yet to suffer a shattering dissolution. She could, one accurately notes, gently sing the transcript of the latest instalment of The F Word and render its coarseness irrelevant; she could whisper a final-day Death Row resident his last rites and the guilty-as-charged gent would pass on with a smile on his face and the smallest of tears peeping from a slowly closing eye.
Far from a singular talent yet, for all her expert execution over some thirty minutes of never-distracted immersion, Khan now finds her career at a crossroads. Ahead is where those behind her newly acquired deal would like her to proceed, the commercial route where she'll build upon those aforementioned references to existing mercurial talents to construct a rough-edged replica of them - nothing more, one fears. Should she choose to turn left or right, though, away from the straight-and-narrow, she may find that her potential overtakes her already demonstrated ability with such force that her shining star can, and will, only ascend beyond the confines of the known musical galaxy. To witness a talent still so raw, but already showing signs of accomplished refinement, is a rare treat; providing Khan isn't swayed away from focusing on her could-be-unique vision, she'll find treats aplenty at her disposal, each ready for rampant consumption by the more discerning soloist aficionado.
_Photo of Bat For Lashes by pfig, from their Flickr page, here
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