Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
You know those nights when you fall asleep only to find the dream that started pleasant turned progressively weirder until you woke up in a cold sweat wondering what the heck just happened? Well, Laurel Sprengelmeyer decided to take that often unsettling experience and make an album out of it.
On her sophomore release, Sprengelmeyer, who wisely goes by the easier to grasp Little Scream moniker, constructs a generally interesting, always ambitious, if somewhat self-indulgent 45 minute suite of songs, most joined together and apparently meant to be absorbed in a single sitting. Think of it as an audio version of a dream that starts relaxing only to turn dark and ominous.
After a short ambient piece, both “Love as a Weapon” and “Dark Dance” lead the listener to think they will hear an upbeat funk/dance album. Little Scream sings in a falsetto so Prince-like it seems to be a tribute to him, recorded before his untimely passing. But then the approach turns murkier, more artsy and somewhat disconcerting as the disc’s final half hour shifts into prog/atmospheric waters. The tunes morph into pieces that wind and twist, eschewing song structure in favor of a drifting, spacey groove seemingly influenced by Kate Bush and Feist. Tracks such as “Wishing Well” float on ghostly, overdubbed voices that then change into the percussive driven “Wreckage” and continues a meandering path as the album evolves into the softer, more pensive if just as dramatic ending tracks “Someone Will Notice” and “Silent Moon.”
Lyrically, the concepts are obtuse and diffuse, but with all the effort Little Scream and co-producer/multi-instrumentalist Richard Reed put into the soundscape, it’s likely there are some intriguing concepts here, if you can untangle them. The album, for all its dense properties is never less than intense as it demands more from the listener than perhaps most are willing to give. But for those with the time, patience and willingness to absorb Little Scream’s often audacious, intermittently compelling soundscapes, the appropriately named Cult Following will likely pay off, even as the disc’s title is a likely indication of its audience.