Released by Diving Bell Records, Anomie Belle’s full length debut Flux marks the introduction of a possibly paradigm shifting artist. Her ten song effort marries a wide variety of musical elements, including trip hop, electronica, and classical, with pop song structures and an unshakable ear for melody. The production, tasked with the job of capturing a pletheroa of varying musical elements, does a fantastic job of rendering her material in a spectacularly balanced fashion – no single element, even Belle’s voice, is highlight over the others at the ultimate expense of the whole composition. Instead, there’s a cinematic quality presiding over the material that’s hard to ignore.
“Saturday Gives” opens Flux on a compelling, quasi-classical note. It isn’t every composer or performer who can bring strings and electronica together with such seamless success, but Belle makes it sound easy here. It’s a great curtain opener to the album. “Right Way” dives headlong into the album’s strongest trip hop/dance characteristics. It brings an attention grabbing tempo together with inventive electronica and a suggestive, groove-oriented vocal that underscores the song’s late night atmospherics. The percolating “As We Are” comes from a similar place sonically and its pulsing electronica sheen, gurgling beats, and solid construction. Everything here fits tightly together/ The album’s lead off release, “Lovers”, swells and regresses with the listener with flourishes of electronica bubbling out of the mix before retreating again. It creates a mood of rising and falling emotions and a heated late night feel it shares with the earlier song “As We Are”.
Another high point comes with the song “As Summer Bleeds Daylight”. This returns Belle to a more consciously artistic pose, less concerned with beats and physically provoking listeners, instead opting for a more considered and nuanced development. The track “Tumult” goes full bore into electronica territory, retaining strong melodic value throughout, but avoids lapsing into the trip hop and dance music inclinations of earlier songs. “Beneath” confronts issues of identity that form much of the album’s thematic basis and the musical treatment continues pursuing electronica ends while showing a much more expansive vision than on the preceding track. The vocal and electronica strengths of “Merla” are perfectly orchestrated and create great tension bristling against one another as they do. Belle’s vocal here is particularly satisfying. “We Let Ourselves In” returns the album to the principles embodied in its second and third songs without ever immersing itself completely in trip hop tropes. The lightly soulful edge in the song helps make it an ideal closer for the album and Belle accentuates it with his wonderfully emotive vocal. Few albums are more focused on breaking through barriers to find a new voice than this one. The most impressive thing about Belle’s creativity is its fearlessness – she is absolutely willing to try anything once and never sounds uncertain at all about the outcomes. This gambler’s attitude results in a release full of sincerity but, perhaps most importantly, a fierce and uncompromising spirit. Flux is one of the year’s most interesting releases.