Red Alder is a female solo artist who creates incredibly atmospheric lo-fi pop. Dissociation is a release that draws you in from the moment it begins, with a haunting and dramatic melody played over blunt, stripped down percussion. This is then joined by whispery female vocals that continue as the music slowly builds. It is clear even from this opening track that the album title is particularly apt. Dissociation is sombre and withdrawn, but it is put together in such a way that it manages to be suitably engaging. What makes it so intriguing is the balance of a quiet, melancholic sound and some interesting and often unusual instrumentation.
Whilst keyboard is the primary instrument used in Red Alder’s work, her use of various percussion and (to quote the bandcamp page) ‘random sounds’ gives each of the tracks a natural and organic feeling not heard in many artists. This elegant simplicity and focus on a consistent sound is perhaps one of the best things about Red Alder. Whilst each song sounds different, there is always this gloomy, ethereal feeling that really works here. What’s also great is the fact that whilst Dissociation is certainly not an upbeat release, it has elements with an almost playful and light-hearted quality. The keyboard melody in The Leaves is perhaps the best example of this. There are other points where an organ sound is used on the keyboard, creating an almost hymn-like feeling to a degree. Its little things like this that really make Red Alder so interesting and listenable – definitely worth checking out if you are into toned down lo-fi pop. Included in the download is a cover of Tim Hardin’s song How Can We Hang On To A Dream, which is a nice little addition.
Standout tracks: Monster, Planet Fall, The Leaves