textura (US)

Forgetfulness is about as good an introduction to the musical world of Georgian electronic producer Natalie Beridze aka TBA as one might hope to receive. The collection gives equal attention to the different sides of her personality, with restrained and aggressive pieces on offer, and vocal and instrumental cuts too. Most of the material is previously unreleased, though some of it was first heard last summer when her What About Things Like Bullets EP was issued. A brief, clangorous intro offers a misleading impression of the album’s style; “Forever Has No Shadow,” the song that immediately follows, however, is very much representative of Beridze’s music, in this case a setting where her spoken-sung vocals wend an unpredictable melodic route through a billowing electronic field of beats and synth tones. That sprechstimme style, at times reminiscent of AGF’s singing, emerges amidst the industrial electro-throb of “What About Things Like Bullets” too.

But Beridze’s material is at its most appealing when she channels her imagination and technical command into pieces of relative restraint, such as “Whatever Falls Is Sumptuous,” which cultivates a dream-like and, yes, sumptuous aura in wrapping her breathy whisper in a cloud of silken synthetics. A dramatic exercise in romantic melancholy, “In the White” likewise captures her deft ability to achieve emotional impact while still working firmly within the electropop tradition. The pianistic presence of Ryuichi Sakamoto on the delicate instrumental “Blue Shadow” (which the Japanese composer wrote with Beridze) makes for another album highlight, and the subsequent settings “When Dreams Become Responsibility,” “Silently,” and album closer “Half This Game is Ninety Percent Mental” likewise offer alluring exercises in ambient splendour. Appearing in the context of such well-crafted vocal settings, an experimental collage such as “Deeply Superficial” proves to be less satisfying, coming across as it does as self-indulgent and emotionally barren. If there’s a weakness to speak of, it has to do with that familiar bugbear length. Based on the evidence at hand, the album can’t be faulted on production grounds, but at fourteen tracks and sixty-seven minutes Forgetfulness begins to feel overlong as one makes one’s way through it, a weakness exacerbated when the closing piece, as pretty as it is, lasts for an excessive ten minutes rather than, say, five.