7.7 / 10
“Ester” is a beguiling, beautifully unsettling album that draws me overwhelmingly and unrelentingly to Cooper's Dream, in the second episode of Twin Peaks. Bear with me here, I'm certain the comparison holds. The dream scene plays out as follows: in a completely red room, a dwarf (aka The Man from Another Place) turns to the protagonist, Cooper, and says “Let's rock! I've got good news. That gum you like is going to come back in style”. He then points to a smiling woman and continues: “She's my cousin. But doesn't she look almost exactly like Laura Palmer?” Cooper looks at the woman and replies “But... it is Laura Palmer. Are you Laura Palmer?”, to which she quips “I feel like I know her, but sometimes my arms bend back.” The Man from Another Place concludes with “She's filled with secrets. Where we're from, the birds sing a pretty song, and there's always music in the air”, before rising from his chair and dancing, at which point the woman kisses Cooper, slowly and seductively. Think of The Man From Another Place as the Trailer Trash Tracys, tempting and touting, dancing to a beat just beyond our reach. The album they present is the illusive ‘Laura Palmer’ – she's a skewed abstraction of what you've been looking for, she's chewing that gum you love and offers a fine line in off-kilter kisses. And yes, you guessed it, we're the seduced somnambulist himself; Dale Bartholomew Cooper.
“Ester” crashes into being with “Rolling (Kiss The Universe)”. A clash of whirs, mis-tempoed drums and murmured melodies; like a broken computer gearing up to play the perfect pop song. From the delicious discord rises “You Wish You Were Red” – a woozy homage to David Lynch, centring on a Badalamenti borrowed bass-line, with Susanne Aztoria playing the role of a wonderfully disinterested Julee Cruise. It's glorious. “Los Angered” is equally enchanting, like My Bloody Valentine covering The Ronettes backed by a damaged drum machine; the jukebox is drenched in cola, the classic chords skewed by sugar soaked works.
There is a charming undercurrent of odd with the Trailer Trash Tracys, a sense of the familiar made strange. Famously, Cooper's Dream was recorded backwards – with the actors speaking in reverse – before being flipped for playback. Consequentially peculiarity pervades; habitual movements twitch and words teeter on the edge of sense. On “Ester” the Trailer Trash Tracys reportedly employ a solfeggio scale, breaking the musical notation into seven per octave rather than our usual eight. This produces a similar atmosphere of uncertainty, vaguely off kilter, forever on the brink of collapse. This is particularly striking on “Strangling Good Guys”; a disarming, dreamlike track with the vocals at a Trish Keenan high.
“Ester” is a remarkable debut. Time proven refrains, with the arms bent back; entrancingly secretive and with a kiss you'd be hard pushed to decipher. The Trailer Trash Tracys hail from a place just beyond the horizon – the blurred edges of beats – where the birds sing a pretty song, and there's always music in the air.