Bachelorette

by Nick Bollinger / 30 May, 2011
Bachelorette’s third and final album is her best yet.
Spend enough time alone with an electronic instrument and you will start to think like one. That is the implication of Digital Brain, a song on Bachelorette’s new album, in which the singer describes her head as being filled with “collected samples” of her love interest.

The digital sampler provides a good metaphor for the way we isolate moments and replay them in our minds, forming our impressions by joining up little particles of information. “Maybe it is that I have to build him out of the samples,” she sings with just the hint of a sigh. “They are the only materials I have.”

Bachelorette is the recording name Christchurch-born Annabel Alpers has used for the past few years, and it conjures a suitably solitary image for a woman who has largely made her music alone. Her songs are witty and personal and she encases them in lush harmonic arrangements of mostly sample- and ­synthesiser-generated sounds. Sometimes a guitar, banjo, autoharp or live drummer will infiltrate her digital sanctum, but these glimpses of another world only add to the sense of longing that runs through her music.

The new album, Bachelorette’s third long-player, is her best yet. It is full of memorable tunes, from the bright anthem of The Light Seekers to Last Boat Leaving, which might be some half-forgotten folk song or sea shanty. Her lyrics are a playful mix of self-examination and science fiction. “The waveforms are our friends, they don’t personalise or criticise,” she sings, joking that she is happiest among her digital friends (or “my electric family”, as she referred to them in the title of an earlier album).

Yet in the end it is the need for human contact, for some sense of connectedness, that emerges as the album’s more serious and persistent theme. In The Light ­Seekers, she imagines a post-corporeal utopia in which “we’ll dissolve duality and disappear forever”. Elsewhere, there are mentions of babies being born and invitations to “grow old with me”.

And this ultimate rejection of solitude is echoed in Alpers’s announcement that this will be her final recording as ­Bachelorette, although not, she emphasises, her farewell to music. Reporting from her current home of Brooklyn, New York, she says she may have found the basis of a new group there. Whatever she does, it is sure to be deeply musical, and maybe more ­communal, too.

BACHELORETTE, Bachelorette (Particle Tracks).

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