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Carrie Armitage

The Singularity Point

Review by Gary Hill

The first thing that jumps out about this album is the vocals. They really call to mind Tori Amos or Kate Bush. Of course, when Tori Amos first emerged she was often compared to Kate Bush as they had some similarities in their vocal performances, so that commonality is logical. The music here is more purely progressive rock oriented than Amos’ work, but the vocals are more daring than Bush’s.

The only real complaints here involve the vocals. At times Armitage pushes the limits of melody a bit too far, creating some slight “nails on chalkboard” moments. Still, those occurrences are rare. In addition, the arrangement sometimes seems too dense and “busy.” Both of those issues lessen the more times the listener spins the disc, though.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Singularity Point

A bouncing arrangement that seems like organized chaos creates the opening section of both “The Singularity Point” the song and the album. It turns towards something more like an electronica-inspired jazz with classical leanings as it continues. Armitage’s vocals soar across the top somewhat like Kate Bush merged with Tori Amos. The arrangement continues to become more involved as more layers are added to the mix. The vocals continue non-lyrically. Then around the three minute mark there’s a countdown from three and a new section emerges. This movement is more rock oriented but still retains the musical elements from the previous section. The vocals are still sans words as it continues through.

Father of Time
This starts with a soulful groove and feels a bit like something from Roxy Music, perhaps. The vocals bring it into more Tori Amos-like territory and the arrangement has a real classically tinged, jazzy rock styling. It’s got more of a pop-rock feeling than the opener had, though. In some ways this feels like something Todd Rundgren might have done. Of course, the Tori Amos and Kate Bush references are still valid on this piece. Like the opener, as it continues it becomes more powerful and the arrangement gains more layers.
Far and Away
“Far and Away” begins with piano and vocals and Armitage’s vocal tests the limits of melodic journeys here. It’s somewhat like Tori Amos frequently does her vocals, skirting around on and off key territory. Armitage isn’t quite as skillful at it, though, and occasionally crosses the line a bit. Still, this is a powerful ballad that’s less lushly arranged than the previous tunes. It has a bit of soulful texture to it and is a nice change of pace. There are some great multiple layered vocals as it builds. It does build beyond the opening premise of balladic later.
Bright White Astonishing Light
Armitage ups the ante with this cut. There’s almost a modern pop element to the song in terms of the rhythm section and spoken parts. Still, Tori Amos and Kate Bush dominate in a decidedly progressive rock arrangement. There’s a rather pounding jazz texture on the beat. It’s an intriguing cut that does a great job of crossing multiple musical style barriers while not really fitting firmly in any of them. There are some intriguing drop-downs to mellower territory as this continues.
Reflection
With “Reflection” the sound becomes much more traditional progressive rock. The keyboard sounds that flirt over the top, along with the overall arrangement, feel like they could have come from any number of prog giants in the 1970s. The vocals are again of the non-lyrical variety, and really take a bit of a back seat to the music. This is an energetic and powerful cut that works very well. It provides a nice bit of variety to the set. The vocals do become more prominent later in the piece.
The Sleep of Reason
As this opens it feels like it might be a new R & B or pop tune. The arrangement on the opening is very rhythmically driven. It gets built out with more layers of sound and begins to resemble something from Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love album. A spoken male vocal comes over the top and then Armitage sings after that. The song’s not a huge change in style, but is truly unique. More spoken sections bring an intriguing texture to the proceedings. 
U4EA
The arrangement for “U4EA” is even more progressive rock oriented. Some bits of guitar that are heard at times call to mind Pink Floyd at other points might make the listener think of King Crimson. Still, the Kate Bush and Tori Amos references along with some jazz are out front, too.
Promise
Found sounds resembling world music textures open “Promise.” The rhythm that accompanies makes the listener think the disc might be heading in tribal directions, but it quickly moves out to something more along the lines of fusion as it continues. The cut combines that sort of sound with the type of musical directions heard on the rest of the set. It’s a very environmentally conscious cut and has a spoken section that leans towards hip-hop.
Starfield
This has a more stripped down arrangement. There is certainly a lot of jazz in the mix, along with some appropriate space rock elements. It is electronic and organic. There are many layers of non-lyrical vocals woven across the top in great ways. It alternates between mellower movements and more powered up ones, but overall is less rocking than some of the other stuff here.
Human Race
The musical motif that starts “Human Race” has an almost Vangelis-like air to it. As the arrangement is expanded there is more of electronic prog texture on hand. As with the majority of the disc, multiple layers of vocals create a lot of the power to the piece. Still, the music itself is potent, too. There are more stripped down movements, particularly some that include spoken vocals over a mostly rhythmic backdrop, that lend some definite variety. There is also a section later that has very little music, just lots of layers of vocals. 
Sidhe
The disc’s closer is very much an atmospheric track that runs in the general vicinity of new age music. It’s short and creates a satisfying conclusion to a real thrill ride of an album.
 
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