‘Full of musical softness, emotive lyricism and cinematic textures, it’s truly beautiful.’
Intro to Iris
At the centre of every great piece of music there is a purpose and a meaning. Sometimes that may be anger that requires power. Sometimes it may be joy that requires driving rhythms. At others though, and most definitely in the case of Norwegian singer-songwriter Iris’ latest track, it may be a sense of reflection that requires neither. Releasing a plethora of tracks during this year, Iris has proved that she can deliver on many levels. I mean, compare the sound of ‘Cotton Candy’ with the sound of ‘Romance is Dead’ and it could be two different artists. However, while every track has been strong, Iris’ newest track ‘Creature’ (released 1st Nov) demonstrates a sound that’s new, and more touching than any other.
Beginning atmospherically with a selection of background samples and magical rhythmical echoes, there is no doubting that the whole intention of Iris’ latest release is to intrigue us more than ever before. Instantly evocative, it truly captivates and encouraging us to listen with intent – not half-heartedly – it really does speak to you. Instrumentally it’s already a delight and while initially it is these elements that speak to you, the emergence of Iris’ vocal does this literally and in the most beautiful way you can imagine.
Leading with the line of ‘From your house we could see the ocean,’ a soft and soothing vocal tone joins the likewise accompaniment. Full of intrigue and free-flowing above the surroundings, the continuously thought-filled lyricism is experienced without distraction. This alone would be enough but with the gentle voice cracks pricking up our ears and the whispered-inference touching us, it is beyond compare. In short, it’s a thing of true beauty. However, becoming even clearer, the most delicate of cross-rhythmical piano lines enhance it further.
Providing momentum and joining with the gentle nature of the sustained elements, this minimalistic motif adds more than an edge of floating musicality. Sure the enticing vocals of Iris help with this but it is the combination of it all which makes it nothing short of a masterpiece. In not saying much, it says all you could wish for and while growing, the understated sound is retained. It takes courage to keep the texture as sparse as it is to this point, but it is exactly appropriate. There is to be change though.
Relying on atmospherics to generate brooding textures and interest, after a short pause – one of near silence – hints that a more orchestral sound is on the horizon. Combining low-pitched dominant piano, fragmented melodies and raw sounding strings, the atmosphere blossoms wonderfully and fills us with moving, instrumental musicality. Working as a link to between the vocal sections either side, it beautifully blends the related, yet contrasting atmospheres that feature in the track.
Likewise, with the vocal returning, and delivering the line of ‘Let me keep you alive in my fantasy’ the sense of non-indulgent longing immediately draws our attention back to the vocal quality. This said, with our focus drifting appropriately around the elements of the track to this point, it’s little surprise that we are kept on our toes as to what to enjoy first. Proving this perfectly, the piano lines of earlier are transferred to delicately finger-picked acoustic guitar, making it feel touchingly familiar. Equally, just as you tune into this, your attention gets drawn to the half-tempo rim-shot infused, electro drums and then back to the piano lines once more.
Highlighting further that there really is so much to get lost in, pushing the sense of familiarity into all areas, the instrumental section returns with one key difference. Heard previously without vocal, it was an evocative moment – cinematic even. However, with it returning and being joined by Iris’ hypnotic tone, this only gets strengthened. Each setting becoming more emotive, the growing variations of the phrase ‘Don’t you dare ever think…’ deliver a multitude of subtle inflections. It is indeed the point the track has been building to. That true moment of reflection. And, with us being guided to an instrumental conclusion, we get exactly that.