“Comet” – Lonely Drifter Karen
A peculiar allure is in the air here. “Comet” is at once prickly and smooth, at once funky and not-funky, at once familiar and unfamiliar. Small details matter. It’s not just the spidery guitar line in the introduction that creates the mood but the squeaky, metallic echoes in the background; it’s not just the fitful piano fills in the verse (note that the keyboard spends more time not playing than playing) but the eerie synthesizer flourishes underneath (half ghost, half singing saw).
Larger details matter too, most of all the song’s 6/4 time. I am something of an uncommon-time-signature devotee, always appreciative of bands willing to trot something other than 4/4 time out for our ears. 6/4 is a particularly attractive option, as it both allows a consistent beat and contributes to a subtle sense of oddness, if only because our ears–whether naturally or by training, who knows–default towards a feeling of four-ness. Six-ness is still regular, you can still dance to it, but something slightly interesting and unexpected is happening. And then there is the matter of singer/guitarist Tanja Frinta, who commands attention with her flexible, vaguely Kate Bush-like soprano–earthy and keen in the verse, breathy-airy in the multi-layered but mostly one-word chorus.
Begun as a solo project for the Austrian-born Frinta while she was living in Sweden in 2003, Lonely Drifter Karen has been through a variety of incarnations, locations, and band-member nationalities over the years. Now based in Brussels, Lonely Drifter Karen currently features Frinta, Spanish keyboardist/arranger Marc Melià Sobrevias, and French guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Clément Marionare (France). “Comet” is a song from the album Poles, the band’s third, released on the Belgian label Crammed Discs, either in February, March, April, or June of this year, depending on which online source one consults.