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Baker's Dozen

Echo's Answers: Carla Dal Forno's Bakers Dozen
Danijela Bočev , October 26th, 2022 08:47

Carla Dal Forno takes tQ through thirteen albums that have shaped her life and work, from the life-changing experience of discovering Broadcast to the constant inspiration of Una Baines

Photo by Jessica Grilli

A mixture of eerie psycho-geographical solitude, betrayed by a sense of warmth, has always been Carla dal Forno’s style. A former member of the Blackest Ever Black crew with F ingers and Tarcar, she has since embarked on a solo career of sonic rabbit holes, while also delivering ever-more expansive listening on her show on NTS Radio.

Come Around is her aptly titled, quietly sensational third album, easily her strongest, most assured work. Her second to be released on her own Kallista Records imprint and her first after relocating back to her native Australia it is a collection of beautiful soundscapes of deep emotional focus, enlivened by melodies rooted in rocksteady bass and the etheric side of post punk. Background music it is not. She tells tQ that there was a sense of urgency making the album, and that she sought a propulsive quality in the music.

Dal Forno's less is more credo never feels too austere or premeditated, but comfortably removes any unnecessary embellishments to reveal necessary personal truths. Candid and casual, her masterfully understated songcraft works almost mischievously, subverting expectations, but stopping you in your tracks with quiet matter-of-fact confidence. Both fans of Broadcast, one of the most quietly influential bands of recent years, we share the excitement of first hearing ‘Come On Let's Go’, transfixed in a moment that made you feel like the world was now forever changed. Part of the lure of her own music lies in that same comfortably introspective, unapologetically introverted, empowering languidness.

On the magnetically nocturnal opener ‘Side By Side’, pensive bass marks the inevitable passage of time as a clock beating. By contrast, ‘Come Around’ twists languorous strumming into something sultry and nostalgic. ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights,’ a cover of The United States Of America’s dazzling 1968 cautionary tale, transforms the original into something uniquely haunting. ‘Stay Awake’, ‘Deep Sleep’ and ‘Autumn’ explore the album's prominent theme of insomnia. As we speak, the roots of that theme emerge in pieces as she recounts newfound motherhood over lockdown and settling in her native Australia after a wandering decade between London and Berlin. At bedtime, she says, her daughter of three will often say: "I can't sleep. It's impossible!" I can't resist noting she might have inherited one of her mother’s insomniac genes, and a knack for laconic, subtly deadpan phrasing as well.

Serendipitously, many of dal Forno’s choices have a lot to do with the moon – Polish band Księżyc’s name, for instance, is a direct translation. One of her choices, The Fates’ Furia, is inspired by Robert Graves’ 1948 text The White Goddess, about a proto-religious matriarchal moon goddess to be found at the root of all European goddess worship – whose replacement with male worship figures led to the modern world’s violence, inequality and misogyny. Though scholarly questionable, it proposes an interesting take on the source of the language that poetry and music are tuned into. Perhaps her own music is like rebalancing project, liberating that energy trapped in the ether and giving the lost goddess a voice for the modern world. By removing competitive guitar-centrism and egotistic maximalism from her music, she challenges the patriarchy via subtle erasure. It is a quiet marvel of an album.

Carla dal Forno’s new album Come Around is released on November 4 via Kallista. To begin reading her Baker’s Dozen, click the image of her below.