The title of Helena Deland’s new EP, From the Series of Songs “Altogether Unaccompanied” Vol. I & II, sounds like something stumbled upon in medias res. What is “Altogether Unaccompanied?” Why the distinct volumes? Deland has started her story, and we have to rush to catch up.
The music starts in the same way. Without preamble or pause, Deland launches into the vocals on “There Are A Thousand,” joined a half second later by a warm, full blend of resonant bass, bright guitars, and light percussion. It immediately seizes you and pulls you into its glittering, dreamy sound.
The story, of course, does start before From the Series of Songs “Altogether Unaccompanied” Vol. I & II. Deland released her debut EP, Drawing Room, last August, and with just four concise and beautiful songs, attracted an excited fanbase. One of those fans was Gorilla vs Bear’s Chris Cantalini, who signed her on as the first artist on his new label Luminelle Recordings, in collaboration with Fat Possum and House Arrest.
Adding only four songs to her repertoire, the artist is poised to accomplish even more. From the Series is a fully realized work, exhibiting Deland and her three collaborators’ skills at putting together beautiful, lilting melodies, intricate and balanced rock and electronic instrumentation, and pop satisfaction. Each of the tracks adds new elements to the mix. “There Are A Thousand” introduces hazy dream pop with a slight psychedelic bent; “Perfect Weather For A Crime” builds higher energy guitar pop over a bouncing bass; “Take It All” takes a darker turn, slinking along in quiet synth and a deep, electronic drum pulse; and “Body Language” showcases the artist’s expressive vocal range over sparse guitar- and bass-led instrumentals and a sticky chorus.
Complete and compact, Helena Deland’s new album both satisfies and leaves us eager for more. As with a story you're dropped in the middle of, the only thing to do is relish what’s in front of you and wonder what’s ahead.