Ghosts and the shadows of the past haunt every groove of The Girl I Left Behind Me, the latest solo-project by The Left Outsides’ Alison Cotton.
The title track on the A-side of this 10-inch record is the soundtrack to a telling of a Muriel Spark ghost story, which was broadcasted on the BBC for Christmas last year. The B-side, “The House of the Famous Poet,” is inspired by another ghostly tale of the same name, also by Spark. Both pieces are filled with a dreamy, aching atmosphere, as if they are themselves the living memory of past tragedies and unanswered mysteries.
Cotton’s masterful viola work here creates spectral soundscapes, which, when combined with her layered soaring cathedral vocals, evoke Victorian churchyards, impenetrable forests and abandoned homes left to decay. In other words, it is a perfect soundtrack for a ghost story. In fact, it nearly feels as though Cotton is telling each story through the enigmatic strokes of her instrument.
The music here is so strong, it’s not necessary to know the source material in order to enjoy it. Each track grabs you immediately, and refuses to let go as it conjures up all sorts of chilling and somber scenes in your mind.
Through Cotton’s use of mournful strings and earthy drones, this album is reminiscent of Mark Korven’s unnerving score for The Witch and George Crumb’s infamous Black Angels. Yet the mood that is created across these two pieces is entirely unique. It feels both current and antiquated, as if two different time periods are indeed coexisting in some sort of shrouded realm. If there’s a better example of music taking on the qualities of a phantom, then I’d like to hear it.
I couldn’t think of a better month than October to enter the melancholic, beautifully ethereal and of course deeply haunting world of Alison Cotton’s The Girl I Left Behind Me.
Vinyl pre-orders are still available through Clay Pipe Music, but act quick, the release date is 10/25!