When sitting down to review this album, it is my intention to get through the entire article without mentioning Grimes. Naturally I fail within the first sentence. It can’t be helped. Girls with synthesizers are few and far between!
Why are there so few women championing the electronic moniker?
Simon Reynolds of the New York Times has suggested that “gender disparity probably has something to do with the enduring association of audio technology…with masculinity“. But then hunyamunyarecords describes Emma aka Catnip and Claws as being “a musician with a love of technology and a dream of bending rules and weaving tales“. She is indeed bending the rules with this capable debut and indeed weaving a tale or two…or twelve!
12 Tails is dense with varied textures and wet with tech. Pianos, guitars and vocals blended beautifully with synthetics and electronic trickery. This is worlds away from the simple loop-based crescendo synonymous with the likes of Grimes. This album’s scope is far more complex than that. It has a kind of organised clutter that reminds me of Daedalus; all improvised and jazzy. After the slick slow build of album opener Ruins and the serene stuttery piano line of Dancing In Sums, comes Glass; a serious glitch-hop track à la Prefuse 73 with beats, bleeps and bops and what sounds like a broken-down child’s toy providing the melody.
There’s not much I can’t get on board with here. Track 4 entitled Life Is instantly reminds me of the muffled cacophony of Flying Lotus, with its shuffling breaks and yawning filters. Scratchy turntableism and retro horns lead us fervently through the vibrance and texture.
Catnip and Claws pulls off track after track of dynamic, inventive and experty constructed electronica, tempered by a surprising diversity in sound and instrumentation. The Bedtime Rebel and Runaway sneak up on us brandishing some lush vocals and penultimate track Altostratus has a distinct lounge-room jazz feel with a rolling double bass, some tasty augmented fifths on the piano and a catchy break beat that rides along tastefully.
It’s hard to avoid gushing like a doe-eyed fool when writing about this album. It’s rare enough to find unsigned electronica this rich in complexity. It’s even more rare to find a girl making bedroom electronica that would sit quite comfortably alongside the majority of the Warp Records back-catalog. This artist is definitely one to watch!
12 Tails will be available for pre-order from Monday 24th September from Dedpop and comes out on the 15th October on cassette tape and download.
Deep Link to the Release Page [ded035]