REVIEW // Tasseomancy – Do Easy (Bella Union)

tasseomancy

This article originally appeared on God Is In The TV

How fast can you take your time, kid?” That’s the question posed by William Burroughs’ short story Doing Easy. ‘Doing Easy’ is a quasi-Buddhist notion that means “doing whatever you do in the easiest most relaxed way you can manage, which is also the quickest and most efficient way.” Needless to say, the concept resonated with a swathe of Beat Generation slackers and loners; novelist Kathy Acker and avant-garde singer-songwriter and performance artist Genesis P-Orridge are notable fans.

The discipline of Doing Easy has also found a follower in Romy Lightman, who forms one half of Tasseomancy. Alongside her twin sister Sari, she once formed part of Canadian cold-wave group Austra, but Burroughs’ concepts have inspired them – along with bandmates Johnny Spence and Evan Cartwright – to forge quite a different path to their former band’s icy synths and steeliness. Instead, their debut album Do Easy takes a warm and distinctively laid back approach to pop.

Tasseomancy aren’t just honouring Burroughs, though. They also pay tribute to musicians who’ve clearly had a distinct impact on their sound. Opener ‘Dead Can Dane and Neil Young,’ doesn’t even attempt to hide the Lightmans’ tastes, the song’s psychedelic folk sound sitting somewhere between the Australians’ semi-experimental neoclassical dark wave and the Canadian singer-songwriter’s folk-rock. Elsewhere, the sisters invoke the spirit of Kate Bush on ‘Missoula’ with its malleable, swooping vocals, but warps it into a charming prog-psych mould. They play on the words of Pentangle’s ‘Let No Man Steal Your Thyme,’ both as a tribute to the folk-jazz band that must have inspired the track’s saxophone flourishes and the speed and efficiency of action that “doing easy” promotes.

Do Easy isn’t all about winks and nudges though, and there’s plenty to marvel at in the soundscapes Tasseomancy weave. Recent single ’29 Palms’ rests on a calming layer of ambient tones, with saxophone and guitar occasionally heard just to add a little bit of texture to the tranquillity. Meanwhile, ‘Wiolyn’ drifts along weightlessly like an autumn leaf in the breeze, but the Lightmans’ vocals also evoke the melancholy that the transition from summer into winter brings too.

But Tasseomancy don’t always stick to being smooth and languid either, mixing things up and keeping things constantly interesting. So, by contrast, ‘Emergency’ sees the group at their most forceful, backed by bare-bones piano melodies, darkwave synths and steel drums. ‘Jimi Infinity’ is as close as they come to creating a traditional pop song, with swelling, stratospheric synths and vocals leading up to a euphoric climax. The electronic drums on ‘Claudine’ gradually become more jagged and frenzied, evolving into the type of distorted, abrasive beats Björk is fond of. Here, they almost break the rule of being relaxed.

On the title track, the sisters encourage us all to follow the principles Burroughs roughly set out in his story: “do easy most of the time, when I’m alone,” “do easy like the poet Burroughs.” Well, Tasseomancy certainly make creating their serene yet mysterious sound completely effortless. Burroughs would be proud.

Do Easy is released on 25th November via Bella Union.

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