Félicia Atkinson: A Transparent Comet
Cooper Cult

French songstress Félicia Atkinson takes her inspiration for this two-song, seven-inch vinyl single from three books, all of which deal with women struggling in the world and fighting for their beliefs: J. D. Salinger's Franny and Zooey; At Home in the World, the memoir by Joyce Maynard that divulged details (much to Salinger's consternation) about her teenage relationship with the author; and a notebook about traveler-philosopher Alexandra David-Neel, one of the first women to travel to Tibet.

A five-minute immersion into a dread-filled zone, the A-side's “Franny” pairs dark percussive clangour generated from a broken-down piano (recorded in Rennes, at the Le Bon Accueil art center) with haunted vocals (laid down in Brussels) intoned by Atkinson as if they're being channeled during an invocation of the dead. Rather less possessed by comparison, the vocal-less drone “Alexandra” presents its decaying, out-of-tune piano chords as a relentless plod in a way that suggests the despairing tone of a work by Faulkner more than Salinger. Though short at eleven minutes, the single is a prototypically idiosyncratic offering of cryptic folk from Atkinson, whose work continues to defy expectations and surprise in one way or another.

September 2012