What is the sound of one woman shrieking? This may have once been a philosophical question, but whereas the sound of one hand clapping is nothing, the sound of England’s Scout Niblett singing sadly can be heard. And after the last note is played, the raking vocals have so seared themselves into your brain, you feel oddly addicted. But instead of sounding like pure music, Niblett’s latest, I Conjure Series, truly sounds like is the Shaggs, America’s premiere outsiders, flailing away out of tune with broken drums and uber-pixie-like off-kilter Bjork vocals. Simply put, I Conjure Series is devoid of any logic and musicality.
Conjuring up fractured images of confusion intermingled with the most apathetic of beat poetry, the lyrics and drums work together like oil and water, repelling one from another as if they were never meant to meet. It’s sadly impossible to understand what this soulful wordsmith was envisioning with this set of squeaky vocalized randomness, but the results are too fractured to force too much criticism on top of the bright young talent. Although Niblett, who played all the instruments on this record, has garnered comparisons from Jason Molina’s sweet mope-folk to the flailing vocal menacing of shannonwright, this album strays so far away from her previous canon of work that one wonders where the art stops and pretension begins.
Instead of sticking to some of her outside-left melodic guitar work as seen on recent tours, she has used the EP as her own personal abstract canvas, painting a visual which may have meant something to herself at the time, but finds no true artistic ground. With the sheer ‘out-of-left-field’ nature of this recording, I can only hope that between the banshee lyrics and the mellower abstractions, she will revert back to her older ways of stripped-down and more endearingly attractive music, instead of this jumbled mess of silliness.
Give her credit for keeping I Conjure Series down to an EP length, and getting her artistic frustrations out in one fell swoop. Then look back to her highly creative and endearing earlier work, including 2001’s Sweet Heart Fever, and give her another chance come her next recording — and pray her pained voice will escape your thoughts before laying down to sleep.