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Tinsel - Stitches of Light

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Artist: Tinsel

Album: Stitches of Light

Label: Keyhole

Review date: Jul. 11, 2004

Stitches of Light is the new six-song mini-album from Tinsel, the vehicle of New Orleans inhabitant Michael Hopkins. The inspiration for this project came from the life and work of Austrian born writer Gustav Meyrink, who wrote, among others, the infamous tale of The Golem, an artificial creature created in the 16th century by a Rabbi Loew in the ghetto of Prague to protect the local Jewish community from destruction and injustice.

The empathy Hopkins has for Meyrink is reflected in his muse. Dark marauding clouds, clocks ticking backwards, dusty books in a neglected library, and the lengthening of malformed, ominous shadows – these are the images conjured by the wintry electronics encompassed within. If there is any glimmer of light to be located here it is extremely well concealed.

The more recent output of Coil and Current 93 are obvious comparisons, although Tinsel's production fails to reach their delectable heights. This, it is true, could be part of the ruse, making the sounds feel all the more perverse. However, Hopkins' vocals fall all too often on the wrong side of alienated and detached, coming across as merely disinterested and drab. This is a shame, as both the lyrics and musical context in which they are placed are undeniably effective, powerfully atmospheric yet simplistic and just yearning for some John Balance or David Tibet-style drama queen panache. Yet this may come in time. After all, Balance himself took years to grow comfortable in his role of hell's ringmaster. On tracks where Hopkins shares vocal responsibilities with Kaleen Enke and Leslie Chalim, this shortcoming is assuaged, with the feminine sonorities doing a great deal to soften the blow. But it is on the penultimate track, the instrumentally-led “Elegant Decay,” where you can really see Tinsel's potential, as a derelict burial ground is evoked and the cries of anguish are torn from those wretched souls heard emerging from within the dense fog.

By Spencer Grady

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