Quinta - My Sister, Boudicca
Listening to Quinta's debut solo album, it's not surprising to learn she has played with Bat For Lashes. Anyone who caught Natasha Khan's early gigs, back when she and band would come on stage dressed as strange pirate women(or something) and wielding a multitude of bizzare instruments, will immediately recognise what Quinta is aiming for.
This debut solo album finds her inhabiting a similar world, one perhaps influenced by oddball arthouse flicks and old English literature more than a huge record collection. The press release states she plays "violin, viola, musical saw, keyboards, clarinet, toy and vintage instruments" and I'm guessing all of those make an appearance during My Sister, Boudicca. There's certainly an air of some vaguely adolescent girl blowing and bashing away at things in her room while running gothic fantasies in her head.
Okay, if this was an oddball arthouse flick, it would be The Company Of Wolves. The Finest Riddle even begins with those creatures of the night howling. (At The Top Of Bear Hill, however, has more in common with The Clangers, not that that's a criticism.) Quinta certainly knows how to create a gently spooky-cum-pretty atmosphere. The problem is the lack of tunes. Mercury Rev (with Deserter's Songs) and Bat For Lashes have paired this sort of strangeness with memorable tunes, but songs here appear half-formed and it's the small number of purely instrumental numbers that work best. While you can see a possible future for Quinta in soundtracking oddball arthouse flicks, it's hard to imagine her cutting it as a singer-songwriter.