Long live Clara Engel, queen of the Canadian independent underground. Deeply immersed in what has been more than a decade of prolific, poetic output (her first studio album, Jump of Flame was released in 2004), Visitors Are Allowed One Kiss launches today (April 4th) on Clara Engel’s Bandcamp.
Twelve years and eight albums later, Toronto-based Engel is only whetting an appetite that is both visceral and heavily clouded with literary imagery.
Visitors Are Allowed One Kiss, an album that saw collaborators from Texas to Tehran, and Berlin in between, is signature Engel all over.
Clara posted on her Facebook page that she is “…happier with how this new album turned out than I can remember being with any of my previous releases.”
Intravenous Magazine described the album as “disembodied stories that whisper into the ear of the listener,” and that “…[l]istening feels deeply personal while also gorgeously apocalyptic.”
Putting on Uneasy Spirit, the second track from VAAOK, had me in full-body goosebumps. Such is the effect of Engel’s chilling, spectral, Marianne Faithful-esque vocals. I Love an Evil Queen fills you with the wistful, destructive longing that comes from being with a lover you know will destroy you, and Once A White Owl is like flipping through photographs you weren’t meant to see. I won’t spoil the rest of the black magic, but the instrumentation is minimal, drifting, and lilts through your brain in bittersweet waves. Light some candles and prepare to be spooked, in the most beautiful way.
Listening to Clara Engel’s latest offering is both intimate and smoke-and-mirrors; she lets you into her world but it is a world shrouded with mystery, visceral spectres, and cobwebbed philosophies.
If Simon and Garfunkle met Chelsea Wolfe, with some Patti Smith mixed in there somewhere, maybe you’d have a glimpse of the intrigue that is Clara Engel, if she were comparable. Tough luck, though: she’s not.