Félicia Atkinson: Visions / Voices
Umor Rex

Strange visions indeed are conjured by visual artist / musician Félicia Atkinson (aka Je Suis Le Petit Chevalier) on this seventy-one minute, double-LP set (a small number of which are pressed on translucent green vinyl, no less), with track titles such as “Infant Vampire” and “The Owls” suggesting as much. Hers is a music as haunted as Grouper's, and certainly the similarities between the artists' styles is evident on Visions / Voices' opening piece “This Impermanent Gold” when Atkinson's gossamer voice drifts alongside a rustic breeze of detuned guitar strums like some long-suffering spirit desperate to complete its earthly sentence. The material meanders in a daze, lost in a half-demented reverie, its lo-fi character calling to mind kindred spirits like Loren MazzaCane Connors and Charalambides.

Most of the tracks on Visions / Voices, which compiles three years of work that previously appeared on cassettes and CD-Rs, stretch out liberally—“The Owls” the most extreme case at eighteen minutes. Consequently, Atkinson is able to surrender to her cryptic muse in uncompromising manner and burrow deeply into the cobweb-strewn recesses of her psyche. Organ, electric piano, guitar, electronics, celtic harp, and vocals are the main ingredients in her alchemical brew. Representative of the release is “All the Roads Are Circular,” a blurry, reverb-drenched meditation with electronic warble and electric guitar shards colliding at its fractured center, and “Hooves Drummed,” which shows that Atkinson can fashion a shimmering death-drone with the best of ‘em.

A Grimm Fairy Tale in aural form, “Infant Vampire” is suitably gothic in tone as it presents multiple wordless strands of Atkinson's mist-covered voice escaping from the center of a forest. Even more enchanted is “The Owls,” a delicate, psychedelic-folk wonderland that plays like some mushrooms-enhanced collaboration between Popol Vuh and Steeleye Span. Being the album's centerpiece, it can't help but overshadow the release's last cuts, “Franny” and “Badlands,” even if they're as haunting as anything else on the album. Regardless, listening to Atkinson's music is a little bit like scanning the woods with a flashlight at night: an initially vaguely unsettling experience that grows progressively more eerie when one's imagination takes hold and all manner of spirits lurking in the shadows begin to materialize.

April 2013