Published Jun 26, 2009Aching, haunting, and ethereal, the music of Seattle songstress Jesy Fortino is surprisingly accomplished considering her relative newness. Performing as Tiny Vipers, she has now released her second proper album, Life On Earth, following 2007's fantastic Hands Across The Void. And while Hands was an intimate, softly sung collection of isolation music, Life On Earth expands on those ideas, doing more with even less. With just an acoustic guitar and Fortino's powerfully hushed voice, Earth leaves room-weighty atmospherics in her epic, sprawling compositions. Opener "Eyes Like Those" sets the tone with its plaintive picking and mournful singing, and it stays calm and down all the way through. It's the sort of minimalist approach that makes the subtle changes all the more endearing. The strummed guitars and pushed vocals of "Time Takes" and familiar pop structure of "Cm" are welcome changes, as is the addition of swarming piano on the ghostly centerpiece, "Young God." Life On Earth is a murky, brooding work that finds as much value in the negative spaces. It's also the most striking Tiny Vipers material yet.
How do you write songs?
I start with the guitar part. I'd say I'm more of a guitar player than anything else. The rest of it comes after. I used to write with stuff in mind, but over the years I just don't anymore. It's much more intuitive now. I just go with the flow. I don't try to make it anything. It is what it is.
What makes Life On Earth a different record from Hands Across The Void?
It's not really improvised, but it's less forced. The first one, I was still coming to terms with a lot of things. I wasn't really secure with myself or secure with what I was doing. I was staying behind some guidelines that I don't really have anymore. The structure is a lot more loose. There's a lot more freedom. It's a lot more mature in dynamic than the last one for sure.
How was the recording process different?
This time I did it analog. I recorded to tape, and the effects are real reverb chamber effects. There's no digital anything. The mic-ing techniques are different too. There are no double-upped vocals, which I wish I had never done on the first record. I was kind of hiding behind that on the first record. (Sub Pop)