REVIEW: Aleah - Aleah
This posthumous collection from the late Swedish based singer Aleah Stanbridge was assembled by her partner and musical collaborator Juha Raivio. This was surely a deeply personal and challenging undertaking for anyone in his position and credit is surely deserved for attempting to package her legacy. The pair previously released a lone album of dreamy doom as Trees of Eternity while Aleah had been involved with That Which Remains (with Andy Cousin from The Mission) and also collaborated with the likes of Swallow the Sun and Amorphis. This offering is a simple split of low-fi, accoustic tracks followed by full band-backed contributions.
The former does not err from Aleah's idiosyncratic muted, ghostly and whispered vocals along with medidative, sparse, folk string plucking. The dreamy, refelction of Vapour has a gorgeous chorus while Open Sky has a bucolic Nordic feel. An arresting highlight is the hauntingly prescient My Will whlie the breezy Touch My Face is a touching and hypnotic closer.
The collection is reflective rather than self-indulgent; at times subtly uplifting rather than maudlin despite the obvious themes of mortality and fate. This is far removed from the underground metal with which Aleah had been invovled but the wisful intensity and atmospheric cadences would find an easy buy-in from followers of that genre. Choruses that would make big, established pop acts envious are kept intentionally low-fi and, by doing so, have an emotional intensity.
The electric second part of this collection is embellished with synth, keys and ethereal effects, similar to a stripped down Trees of Eternity without guitars or a lighter touch Antimatter, or perhaps even reminiscent of early 2000s electro-gaze. Although some of these songs can be unearthed eleswhere this is a well-packaged and fittingly produced archive of Aleah's output as a solo artist while the sheer pathos and poignancy of the lyrical themes is striking.