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Known up until now for her work in the Portland based dream pop band, Blouse, Charlie Hilton’s forth coming debut album, Palana, embraces the eclectic personal dilemma – what is the self? Throughout the process of the solo album Hilton obsessed over Hermann Hesse’s timely musing from Steppenwolf: “Man is not by any means of fixed and enduring form… he is much more an experiment and a transition…” Embracing her complex individuality, Hilton’s experimental nature on the album explores the different sides of herself and forges a new identity in the making.
The blazingly beautiful debut album from Charlie Hilton features a fluidity that only emerges through natural self-awareness and complete musical freedom.
Surfacing once again, the album title pays homage to Hilton’s Sanskrit birth name, Palana (meaning protection). With no surprise, music was, to her, an organic pastime being surrounded by her father’s band and guitars lying around the house in her childhood. Her coming of age tale saw Palana dropping her guru given name for the androgynous Charlie, to shed away the emotional baggage and family history she was dragging around with her and start afresh in the music industry.
Stripping down to simple arrangements of cellos and strings, the softly-spoken crooner breathes the distinct subtleness of Nico, the glamorousness of Marc Bolan and the wittiness of Jonathan Richman. She channels an aesthetic deeply reverberant on its own, dazzling an airy soft-hued cohesion throughout the album. Title track Palana explores minimalist instruments, softness and various textures, creating an atmospheric track that reaches out to find ones own identity.
Working with personal friend and hands-on producer / multi-instrumentalist Jacob Portrait (from UMO) allowed Hilton to comfortably collaborate on ideas and focus on songwriting. Out of the confinement of a band structure, Hilton freely experimented with conflicting sounds and dispositions, giving her a chance to release tracks she felt were not right for the “Blouse” sound.
Drenched in 80s dark wave and synths, Something For Us All and Pony engage in a warped and echoey VHS pop affair. Lilting vocal loops and washed out guitars are a common theme on the album, forging an eerie intimacy with the listener and herself. Funny Anyway is noted as Hiltons favourite tune featuring a cello track from Yeasayer’s Anand Wilder, who was recording in the same New York Studio.
Already greeted with warm reception and produced by Wood’s Jarvis Taveniere, 100 Million features The Backer himself, Mac Demarco on instrumentals and backing vocals. The two met up for a week in New York when Mac was releasing his first album, eventually teaming up and creating some charming and dreamy music. Hilton’s sumptuous vocals and Mac’s flare on each instrument weaves soothingly together creating a lusciously lazy 60s nostalgic tune.
Hilton already has set dates for a trip around the states in February 2016, but we’re hoping for an Aussie tour decked out with a grand piano and cello. Palana is set for release on Friday 22nd January via Captured Tracks/ Remote Control on CD, cassette, vinyl and special edition coloured vinyl, if that’s your kind of dig.