Tears|Ov are an experimental trio founded in 2015 comprised of sound artist Lori Allen, classically trained cellist Katie Spafford and illustrator / prison psychotherapist Deborah Wale. On the heels of their initial collaboration on Allen’s 2016 solo album ‘Tears Of The Material Vulture’, this debut album from the trio ‘A Hopeless Place’ offers up eight tracks that see them crafting a curious blend of live instrumentation, synthetic elements and unpredictable samples that often defies easy categorisation.
Title track ‘A Hopeless Places’ opens this album on a distinctly cinematic note as slow drums beat against a backdrop of digitally treated instrumentation and glitchy flutters, only for elegant piano arrangements to slowly unfurl against slow bass cello plucks and weirdly pitchshifted vocal samples. While it sounds slightly unwieldy in printed form, in practice it’s curiously coherent and lulling.
By contrast, ‘I Stand On The Cable’ devolves a sampled wartime speech down into a bizarre bed of layered chuckles against coldly severe minimal wave synths and vaguely acidic squelches that sits closer to one of Negativland’s sound cut-ups, with its surrealist blend of alternately sinister and absurd elements.
‘All Else Is Bondage (For A.)’ meanwhile sees Allen’s vocals rising up like a ghost against a restlessly swirling backdrop of cello loops, bass drones and sparse electronic chirps, the almost ritualistic atmosphere that’s generated calling to mind a more ethereal take on Diamanda Galas.
Elsewhere, ‘Trapdoor Ant’ offers a jagged wander through refracted sounding treated instrumentation, strangely jazzy jangling bass chords and Allen’s imperious sounding vocals, before ‘Family Feudal’ mashes samples of gameshow questions into a furious burst of noise, mournful cello drones and looped audience applause. While ‘A Hopeless Place’ is often a bizarre listening experience, there’s a consistent sense of compelling logic at work here.