Ormonde – Cartographer/Explorer
Defiantly minimalist and daringly under-dramatised, Cartographer/Explorer is the second album from the magnetic pairing of Anna-Lynne Williams and Robert Gomez, and it deploys little to make oh so much. Their 2012 debut Machine left traces of their separate histories. Williams, best known for her work with Trespassers William, and Gomez, a journeyman with a weighty CV that includes a stint with John Grant, are savvy collaborators. But it's Ormonde that gives voice to a singular vision and they reconvene with an altogether darker outlook.
Cartographer/Explorer is a difficult work, of that have no doubt, with little support for the duo's hushed vocals beyond muted guitar and percussion. But it is, at times, almost unbearably beautiful. Imagine Slint covering Cowboy Junkies' The Caution Horses, but with fewer laughs. Test your mettle and listen to it alone, late at night. For full effect, do it while heartbroken: call it method listening. [Gary Kaill]