Ombre // Believe You Me // August 27 // Asthmatic Kitty
Sometimes you get two different artists coming together to push eachother and get out weird results, results that the artists could not achieve when on their own in their comfort zone. Ombre is not one of those collaborations. Ombre is a duo of ambient vocal loop virtuoso Julianna Barwick and Latin guitar oriented songwriter Helado Negro. They’re both on Asthmatic Kitty records and so the collab seems normal, too normal perhaps considering their day jobs.
Both artists strive to create the sound of a solitary night. Believe You Me is a ten part journey through the night then as it plays up to both artists’ strengths. Barwick is still wailing around the place in the background while Helado Negro takes cares of things on the more immediate forefront of the vocal game on here. Not underrating Barwick on here but while she is layering ethereal melodies with her voice like she did on her The Magic Place LP, the most memorable moments on Believe You Me feels more like Helado Negro solo efforts. Weight Those Words is one of the early highlights, combining soft guitar strokes with a lot of space and some hushed vocals. Believe You Me might sound like a standard night music but really it’s closer to the morning. It swirls all around the place but it’s careful not to wake anyone.
Not that Believe You Me ever goes all out. There are some brass elements on few of the songs, best showcased on the subtle Tormentas, but eventually it all comes down to the fact that Believe You Me is an acoustically minded ambient record that stands quite close to that brilliant Mirrorring LP from earlier this year. It’s certainly just as cold but Barwick wraps everything in a warm vocal blanket. While she’s not always the focal point on here, especially when Helado Negro is on the vocal, one can feel that her voice is the main instrument and engine to Believe you Me. That really shows when Helado Negro suddenly leaves and Barwick has to fill in his absence. This shift in the second part of the album makes Ombre feel less like an uniformly operating unit. The album too feels like one spread out idea that doesn’t really change its shape whether it’s Barwick or Helado Negro at the wheel. It all becomes rather too one sided towards the end of the LP. Ombre means shaded but on Believe You Me every detail is illuminated with no shadows left to obscure anything.
The best thing that can be said about Believe You Me is that at least it plays up to the strengths of the individual artists. Yet individuality is the word that springs to mind way too often when listening to this record. It doesn’t feels as much a collaboration as it sounds like an awkwardly placed split record with two artists on the same label doing their own thing. The album starts and finishes with a track called Night Shines. For better or worse, the duo is just happy to lose themselves to this bright moonlight alone together.