Acre Tarn - Clasp and Shake EP
"Hope has gone, we're only young this once…"
Introductions first. They are Anna and Adam. This is their debut EP. They have, um, been around. And they're from…somewhere. If you must, have a dig and get the skinny on their history. As they themselves acknowledge, it won’t help, particularly. And it might just cloud matters. So, divert your energies instead into biting down hard on this, their eye-popping, head-spinning opening shot. It is, in a year that has delivered boy-girl electronic duos in an equal mix of essential and disposable, as good as it gets in 2014.
Whatever 'it' is. For Acre Tarn (there are clues in that name as to both provenance and direction for those who fancy a bit of work) are deliciously distinct, leagues apart from the over-hyped common herd. These four songs – yes, songs, we’ll leave the hapless bozos to keep churning out tracks – are a wonder, a journey into dizzying new worlds. 'This Once' is a noir lullaby, a flurry of multi-layered vocals. Watch as it drifts out of view and then comes soaring back alight. Applauding its gymnastic key change should be a law or something. 'Circle' is deceptively trim but repeat plays cement its "the silence is deafening" refrain to your consciousness. 'Wishing Bone' is where things get serious. Anna, whose range is that of a canyon, sings with grace, guts and guile. It's difficult to fully get your arms around, which is as frustrating as it is thrilling, but for a moment there's a hint, in its collision of melody and skittering rhythm, of the wayward adventuring of Kate Bush's The Dreaming. So, you know, that's quite a good thing. 'Skeleton Key' begins as chill hymnal before clipped beats boost it skyward. There's a startling tempo change that really should crunch but by now Acre Tarn and their fearless dabbling seem capable of anything. Amidst a torrent of vocal melody, a sliver of trad Brit folk emerges, adding intrigue and further hinting at their scope. In their own words: "We're explorers." For sure, a claim made by emerging acts on an hourly basis, but on this evidence, Acre Tarn are prone to some serious understatement.