My Brightest Diamond — This Is My Hand

Asthmatic Kitty |

Obliquely geometric, the latest from My Brightest Diamond dives deep into the surreal

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“Disperse the white light,” commands Shara Nova, and her subordinates obey. Colours and shapes immediately rally to her call, swirling around her like schools of shining fish, an airborne parade underpinned by and calibrated to violent, militaristic bursts of percussion. The sour-sweet sage of All Things Will Unwind has shed her feathers to reveal a radiant seraph. This Is My Hand is an experimental kaleidoscope: carefully designed and rigorously ordered.

There is a gentle quaver to the calm of her instrument, St. Vincent elevated to nirvana, Björk shifted sideways into indie pop. Indeed Shara’s affinity for platonic statements and grand, big-picture observations is appealingly Björklike. The title track crafts a mantra of affirmation from a single line, repeated again and again, spiralling higher and higher, offset against an ascending five-note figure in polyrhythmic euphony.

Throughout This Is My Hand, Shara addresses imagined multitudes. Here, she invokes ancient mythology: “Imagine fire inside our chests / And breathe it out together.” There, she delivers occult punishment: “Take a different shape.” She traces out the geometries of ‘Resonance’ with pulsing auroras, of ‘Looking at the Sun’ with obtuse smoothness, of ‘So Easy’ with muted chimes. “I am not the bad guy,” she insists, while a dramatic punctuation of brass begs to differ.

A ghostly apparition appears to Shara on the album’s finale, carrying a bouquet of white snow, leaving in her wake a trail of perfumed stars. The suggestion of penance hangs delicately in the air, unresolved.

Bright crimson drumming splashes against the indigo funk of velveteen basslines, intermingling with chimes of sparkling pinks and blues. And at the gravitational centre is the brilliant white diamondlight of Shara’s voice; restrained and regulated, but never less than luminous.