Ana Caravelle imagines the harp in the age of the sampler (and an exclusive remix)
There’s a pixie-shaped specter hovering over the music of Ana Caravelle -- one that looks an awful lot like Joanna Newsom. Such will be the lot of any young woman who roots an experimental, ambitious album around the harp and an idiosyncratic voice. But “Basic Climb,” the debut album from the 22-year-old Angeleno (née Anahita Navab) is about as far from Newsom’s cracked madrigals as you can get.
Carvelle’s music isn’t idyllic or sylvan -– it’s spooky and percussive; it's a little deadpan; and it only occasionally lets the clouds part for a rich flurry of harmony. That she’s based her career in the simmering Low End Theory beat-music scene (she recorded “Climb” at Alpha Pup head Kevin Moo’s in-house studio) is unlikely but no accident. She writes songs with an intuition toward the feel of cut-and-paste sampling, and the sense that arrangements don’t have to neatly stack up to be entrancing.
Lead single “Where Have You Been?” makes room for a boozy clarinet, junked-up percussion and effect-less vocals that feel intimate in a kind of spooky way -– as if a stranger on a bus suddenly told you they loved you. She covers Arthur Russell’s “Lucky Cloud,” and it’s an apt choice -– they both wring a lot of feeling and atmosphere from charismatic but not traditionally "emotive" voices.
Her debut comes out Sept. 28 on the label of the local collective Non Projects, and we have an exclusive remix of her track “Shapeshifting” from her label head Anenon to pass along in advance of that. Caravelle and her boyfriend, the local producer Asura, are playing a number of collaborative shows this fall, including great bills at the Downtown Independent on Sept. 26 (with Shlohmo, and -– full disclosure -- co-presented by Pop & Hiss contributor Jeff Weiss); a truly killer edition of Low End Theory with the New York electronic composer Oneohtrix Point Never and L.A.’s ambient-music samurai matthewdavid; and the Eagle Rock Music Festival’s experimental stage with Sun Araw and L.A. Vampires. Any of them will be a fine occasion to hear what happens when one of the oldest instruments in music gets torn up and re-built anew.
-- August Brown
Photo: Ana Caravelle. Credit: Spencer Lowell