Continuing with my obsession (that doesn’t seem to end) with Imogen Heap, I am here again to throw light on her new album “Ellipse”, which, as I had written earlier, was released on the 25th of August, 2009.
For long time fans of Imogen Heap, a piece of advice – Do not expect another Hide and Seek and you will not be disappointed. From the time she started work on her album, Imogen has been clear that she cannot keep second guessing what her listeners would like and she did not want to be slotted into one category. She does her music for her own pleasure and wants to share it with her fans. And after watching her work so hard on Ellipse (on her vblogs), one can only appreciate the amount of hardwork she has put in and the creative genius she is.
Ellipse came an endless three years after her second album, Speak For Yourself. This must be cause for cheer for fans as Speak For Yourself had come a really long seven years after her debut i-Megaphone. Of course she had worked with Frou Frou in the interim. Imogen used the three years’ gap to move into her old family home in Essex, make it habitable, build her own studio and record Ellipse. It was Imogen’s wish to include sounds of her new house in every song recorded in her house. This experiment has worked out well with every track on the album starting with home sounds, for instance Bad Body Double starts with the sound of the shower. The same idea has resulted in the album being named Ellipse (which was to be Tidal otherwise) after the house that is round in shape.
Just like her first two albums are different from each other, spanning different genres and writing styles, Ellipse is also slightly different, with a new fresh sound to it. Ellipse is a pot pourri of electronics and instruments from cello, flute, guitar, drums to the hang (, which is a swiss musical instrument), and of course, the house sounds along with Imogen Heap’s ethereal voice, all of which make for a pleasant listening experience. One just cannot stop wondering in delight at Imogen’s writing. The words flow into one another seamlessly. Imogen uses absurd words to good effect in her trademark style, for example, the song Tidal starts with “Before electric light, you paddled through the soup of darkness as a crocodile.” The unconventional lyrics and melodious music create various sights and sounds in the mind.
Ellipse includes the following tracks.
1) First Train Home – The song starts with a haunting glass harmonica and goes on to catch up pace with great beats. It is about being somewhere you don’t want to be.
2) Wait It Out – A hint of Hide and Seek in this one. The song goes from high to low, losing and catching pace.
3) Earth – Imogen plays Mother Earth and admonishes mankind for their mistreatment of her. My favourite lines – “These legoland empires are choking out mine now. You are everywhere, everywhere, multiplying around me child.”
4) Little Bird – I have not figured out what this song means yet. But it has the most beautiful lyrics that create scenes of breakfast in the morning.
5) Swoon - The most energetic song on the album. Swoon is a romantic, lovely song.
6) Tidal – This has a hint of Indian classical music with an artiste called Ashwin lending his voice and playing the flute for sometime. It is amazing to hear Imogen go Indian suddenly. My favourite lines – ”Do what you feel, just how you like, nobody has to know.”
7) Between Sheets – Like I had written earlier, I was dying for this song. And it did not disappoint. A beautiful love-making song starting with the romantic sound of starlings, which was recorded by Imogen in the wee hours of morning.
8 ) 2 – 1 – A dark song about uncertainty, with minimal music.
9) Bad Body Double – One of my instant favourites. A song about having a bad body double and the trouble it can cause.
10) Aha! – You talk all the time about eating healthy, and then you are caught with your hand in the biscuit tin. You are always sermonising about saving the planet and then you cut down a tree so that you can have a better view of your car from your bedroom window. Song is about hypocrites!
11) The Fire – A beautiful, slow piano track.
12) Canvas – It is a beautiful, haunting song of a man going to the Arctic just to paint a picture.
13) Half-Life – A song of un-fulfilled love, half-completed romance, where you come last in your partner’s life. To make matters worse, your partner had warned you about it. You are just living a half life, a daft life. Beautifully rendered by Imogen in a voice she has never used before.
Imogen is very much in tune with her fan base. The deluxe edition of Ellipse provides instrumentals of all the tracks, which is very good for karaoke. I just started singing my own variations of the songs on them.
Ellipse will leave you entranced with the opening First Train Home to the closing Half Life. I love this album because Imogen sounds very happy in this, something that was not so prominent in her other two albums. Just to hear Imogen’s euphoric voice singing new tracks is an experience in itself, like a roller-coaster ride (especially when she goes high and then low).
PS: I could not decide what songs to link to and what not to. They are all amazing. Buy the CD!