When you get experimental, you're expected to get weird, maybe even creepy. You're supposed to go out of the ordinary and make something distinctly different from what may be expected. That's what Carla dal Forno does in her new album, You Know What It's Like.
dal Forno has provided her talents for many acts in the past, but You Know What It's Like is her first solo effort. On her debut, you'd think she'd want to tackle a more accessible field. That's almost the opposite of what she does - her debut is largely an artful experiment, requiring an open mind to indulge fully in and to understand. It's chocked full of interesting moments, but they're all understated to the extreme (no song has a definitive climax; it's all one machine) and requires active listening. In that way, it makes it a brilliant thing. She found a way to get listeners to not lose any attention.
While clocking in at just below half an hour, the album does make use of its short run time. The creepy wobbles of 'Italian Cinema' open the record, its dinky, curious synths providing the accurate summation of the album's sound to come. You Know What It's Like is full of strange, often times scary sounds that provoke that unsettling feeling in its listener. 'DB Rip' builds slowly with dreamy ambience and choirs, the synths washing over dull shores with ominous choirs backing them as the song slowly builds its atmosphere. 'Dragon Breath' is scary from the start, the low drone of the bass followed by the distorted hum of some machine emulating the quiet horrors of a sleeping dragon. It's all subtlety that makes this album so vivid.
The other side of this album is how it builds. When its not creating disturbing atmosphere, it's creating a thoughtful experience. dal Forno sings in a few tracks, her voice singing almost emptily above slowly chugging instrumentals akin to Chelsea Wolfe. The most clear example is closing track 'The Same Reply', slowly churning with pretty piano and industrial drums. There's also 'What You Gonna Do Now', which is really the most accessible song on the record, and that's saying something because it's still an acquired taste. The song features a simple yet effective bassline that repeats under her deathly vocals, an urgent beat building behind her, the song slowly growing with a sort of restless contempt. It's like a look into a foggy iteration of hell. The slow tortured cries of demons form themselves into swelling synths and UFO noises.
Carla dal Forno doesn't mess around. Her debut is serious and sounds like she's lived a lifetime of torture. It's a horror record, but at the same time finds beauty in its simplicity and pain. It's an odd debut, but it solidifies her position in music. Her solid footing just took a strong step forward - this woman is not afraid.
Favorite Tracks: What You Gonna Do Now, The Same Reply, DB Rip
Least Favorite Track: Italian Cinema
Rating: 80 / 100