Rachael Boyd: Too High
Abandon Building

At forty-three minutes, Rachael Boyd's second EP Too High is a generously stuffed set that pairs five originals with remixes by Sun Glitters, Kelpe, Origamibiro, and Maps and Diagrams. The Belfast multi-instrumentalist (vocals, piano, violin, guitar) and songwriter operates in a musical zone that draws upon post-classical and electronic traditions and cites artists such as Sufjan Stevens, Balmorhea, Debussy, and Nils Frahm as influences. A typical Boyd original grounds itself in refined piano playing that's embellished by strings, beat programming, and an occasional vocal.

She begins the EP dramatically with “Aim Too High,” which sees her luscious, multi-tracked vocals and pretty piano playing augmented by strings and beatsmithing. Boyd's classical leanings come to the fore during the opening section of “Five To Seven” in its blend of piano and strings patterns as well as during “Pace It” (raw guitar textures notwithstanding) and, naturally, “Etude.” There is one glaring weak spot in Boyd's music: overly busy beats that detract from the material rather than enhance it—songs such as “Five To Seven” and “You Need To Stop Looking” would be better without the clutter that the percussive dimension adds to it; furthermore, there's already enough rhythmic drive in the piano and strings elements that there's no need for drumming.

Though the remixes constitute the bonus part of the project, they definitely bolster the release's appeal, especially when they're so varying in character: “Aim Too High” is treated to a lilting makeover by Abandon Building artist Origamibiro that frankly improves on the original by replacing its beat programming with more natural percussion textures; “You Need To Stop Looking” becomes a snappy slice of sparkling clip-hop once Sun Glitters gets his hands on it; “Pace It” turns into a clubby synth-funk jam thanks to Kelpe; and “Five To Seven” basks in the kind of technicolour ambient splendour one might expect Maps And Diagrams would bring to it.

August-September 2013