Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Calcination, noun: the conversion into oxides or ashes by heating or burning. It’s an appropriate description of Scout Niblett’s sixth album, an act of slow, musical self-immolation. While minimal instrumentation and powerful lyrics have always been Niblett’s thing, Calcination is without doubt her darkest, most disturbing, collection yet. With only distorted electric guitar and the occasional crude drum providing the flickering coals, Niblett unleashes a throbbing, woeful howl that surges and wanes from track to track, building a quivering tension that never breaks, and ominous clouds that never storm. Calcination can sometimes get too close to the fire; there’s a sort of sonic sweat dripping from each wailing confessional. It’s the same harrowing experience provided so chillingly by the recordings of Russian punk-folk icon Yanka Dyagileva, with the added benefit of English lyrics that invite you to observe in discomfort as she undertakes some seriously draining self-examination. Musically, there’s nothing suitable for an MP3-player shuffle or a mix-CD; the cooing “Kings” is as catchy as the album gets. The Calcination Of Scout Niblett is less a record to be heard, and more a spectacle to be gawked at, one from which it’s difficult to turn away.


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