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CTM
Suite For A Young Girl Lottie Brazier , December 14th, 2015 09:29

The Danish composer and cellist Cæcilie Trier prefers to use the abbreviation 'Cæcilie Trier Musik' for her work, which intentionally or not gives it an impersonality. CTM's career trajectory so far is shaping up to be somewhat Talk Talk-esque; her new tracks convince the listener less by the drama and force we'd hear on her 2013 'Jewel' and more by guidance of subtle dynamic. This second release of hers, Suite For A Young Girl, is a mini-album, but the fact that this release is small scale does not detract from its impact. It is, rather, suggestive of a dedication to quality control. Trier does not overshare, she is one of few artists to make her process discrete and our imaginations are left to embellish what information we might have about this process. CTM is making subtle development away from heavy use of synth pads and more towards classical influences. On the single 'Return Of The Hunters', Trier enlists the help of classical guitarist father Lars Trier (not to be confused with the film director of the similar name). The track makes reference to the Flemish artist's Pieter Breugel's 1565  'Hunters In The Snow'; here the men returning from their failed hunt bring with them an encroaching darkness into the scenes of distant merriment. Trier seems attracted to this theme of imminent tragedy, with Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita being another influence to Suite For A Young Girl.

With these same classical influences, 'Cézanne' features a new sparse, tense musical accompaniment, one which mimics well the slow and apprehensive steps of the dancers in its music video. Copenhagen's old city centre, Indre By, provides a staging for this new project; Trier is fascinated by its houses. It's hard not to be fascinated alongside her as a listener too, imagining her creative access to these large, bright interiors. Here on Trier's 'Cézanne', seemingly identical girl dancers ascend a chalky grey staircase, one after the other, as they might if trapped in a turning kaleidoscope. Soft Impressionistic ambiguity leads both her music and stylistic direction, and so is odd to imagine CTM as labelmate to the internationally successful hardcore punks Iceage. And odder even still to realise that Trier has also worked alongside the band's frontman Elias Bender Rønnenfelt on a side project titled Marching Church.

Trier's voice is striking and soulful but controlled, it is naturally low but that doesn't make one rush to draw comparisons between hers and Nico's, or Bjork's for that matter. It is, instead, refreshingly unique to her and has its own auto-tuned contemporary pop vocal influence. In pop as much as experimental music, pause and space are becoming common features of an artist's repertoire and the combination of Trier's strong songwriting and storytelling both provide strong continuity over her breaks. Her intention to make this mini-album soundtrack-like is fully indulged on 'Drop Shot', where instead of film footage we have her narration. I often flinch at 'chipmunk' vocals but here the effect's nauseating pitch helps the track progress into unsettling territory; it gives it that enveloping travel-sickness of Laurel Halo's debut 'Quarantine'. Trier's vocal delivery here is drowsy and hay feverish, distracted for a moment by honey bees, birch trees and an overturned shopping cart before "the start of the serve". Like the other tracks on this mini-album, the calm seems fake or transient.

With its abrupt piano and saxophone cameo, this album's final track 'Escorted/The Road' sits musically in between Talk Talk's 'Laughing Stock' and James Blake. Here the electric guitar is played gently, it does not take centre stage amongst the other instrumentation; all rock or punk connotations of this instrument are stripped. When at its most confident and well arranged, Suite For A Young Girl generates its own complex, self-contained atmosphere that takes repeat listens to absorb. This also means that the album lacks poppy immediacy, but that does not mean it is background music. It is refreshing to hear the timbre of acoustic classical instruments alongside synthesised instruments. This in itself demands close listening and attention; the enjoyment gained from this album is similar to that of pursuing with a long read. Trier's lyrics are unusually visual and ambitious throughout, with references to tennis techniques, lists of flora and fauna, impressionist painters. Without lyrical cliché this album sounds highly personal, sincere and document-like. Suite For A Young Girl is a highly sophisticated progression from CTM's debut release Variations in 2012.

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