REVIEW: Hope Sandoval And The Warm Inventions – Until The Hunter

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Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions – the dream pop project of singer of 90s American singer Mazzy Star and Colm Ó Cíosóig of My Bloody Valentine… have had a busy year, which began with appearances on new albums Massive Attack and Psychic Ills songs.

Then Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions released a vinyl 10 single of “Let Me Get There.” Released September 23rd with Kurt Vile vocals, this track is taken from the new album Hope Sandoval called Until The Hunter which was released November 4th.

Even though this is Hope Sandoval and Colm O’Coisog’s third album together, The Warm Inventions continue to be graded upon their previous career achievements. Sandoval’s time in Mazzy Star and O’Coisog’s with My Bloody Valentine is significant of course, but The Warm Inventions is an entirely different vibe altogether. There’s a fair amount of ambience going on admittedly, but that’s about as far as the comparisons go.

The screeching of noise and the contrast of soft focus guitars is largely absent on Until The Hunter. This is immediately evident on the opening nine-minute track Into The Trees which finds Sandoval surrounded by sinister organ drones and noises. Yet O’Coisog’s delicate drumming and those creepy tones still allow the breathy, barely whispered vocals of Sandoval and Mariee Sioux plenty of room. The overall effect is similar to that of attempting to summon wood sprites in a sparsely wooded area, watching tendrils of mist slowly dissipating in the dark and the tails of fireflies dancing in the dark. Probably. Such is the ephemeral nature of the song, it’s quite easy to drift off into flights of fancy that may, or may not involve woodland sprites, as Sandoval intones “I miss you.”

Away from the swirling mists and drones of Into The Trees, a significant part of Until The Hunter is really pared back to just guitar and Sandoval’s signature magical vocals. The Peasant and Let Me Get There (the latter, featuring Kurt Vile) both nod to folk and country in a subtle way. Let Me Get There takes things in a more radio friendly way, with Vile and Sandoval creating a genuine sense of chemistry as they exchange lines. It’s somewhere between Kenny Rogers and Big Star, yet there’s also a mood of pleading, sadness and want at the heart of the song. Sandoval and Vile sing of being “in the groove” with such laid back smoothness, but there’s an undertone of melancholic acceptance too. It’s something that bleeds though into the closing track – a dreamy, soulful bluesy ballad with a sinister edge that wouldn’t be out of place in a David Lynch movie.

The Peasant adds a little Roy Orbison twang to the guitar, before foregrounding a truly spellbinding vocal performance from Sandoval. Rarely given to histrionics, she lets the words do the work, almost drawling her lines. As simple as her delivery appears, there’s so much tied up in her performance. With only tiny changes she can evoke a remarkable palette of emotions. On The Peasant she sounds like a heartbroken Country artist, singing to herself in a smoky bar long after everyone’s gone home. Somehow she combines sadness with a strange sultry quality as the song slowly turns into a ghostly version of I Would Rather Go Blind.

Star immediately follows that with A Wonderful Seed which finds her in more playful mood, as she runs through a folk tale-cum-nursery rhyme. The Hiking Song strips things back to guitar and vocals with just a little reverb. As with the majority of this album, the understated beauty is to be found in the earthy arrangements, the natural beauty of Sandoval’s voice and O’Coisog’s instrumentation. How they pack so much emotion and feel into so little is nothing short of magical. Their previous bands might be a lot to live up to, but Until The Hunter is a future classic in its own right.

Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions – Let Me Get There ft. Kurt Vile

Until the Hunter tracklist & album artwork:

1. Into the Trees
2. The Peasant
3. A Wonderful Seed
4. Let Me Get There (with Kurt Vile)
5. Day Disguise
6. Treasure
7. Salt of the Sea
8. The Hiking Sea
9. Isn’t It True
10. I Took a Sip
11. Liquid Lady

Download The Hunter on iTunes here now!