One of a clutch of three new releases from Japan’s highly influential Spekk label, Felicia Atkinson is a name, that I must confess remains unknown to me at this time. The interestingly named “la la la” simultaneously shocks and delights me as it opens with a swathe of acoustic guitar, and a voice that resembles somebody like Suzanne Vega, or any one of a number of new American female rock/pop artists. Atkinson’s works are complex, dreamy, layered, and deeply personal affairs, at times quirky and almost child-like in the simplicity of execution, at other times, slightly otherworldly and disturbing…full of revolving doors, distorted mirrors, and spectral presences. After several listens, I’m still not sure whether I actually LIKE Atkinson’s work, although further self analysis reveals that perhaps this is coloured by my expectations of Spekk as a label, rather than taking the pieces on their own merit. Much of the work reminds me of the sonic equivalent of Outsider Art, highly personal, almost folksy renditions, borne out of the camp fire tradition, but twisted and buckled into a niche of the artist’s own making.
Subsequent listenings DO however demonstrate that Spekk are willing to extend the remit of their roster into more challenging territory, and Atkinson’s oblique and distorted ballads carry with them some of the characteristics of some of the Jap pop artists, and I can see it being well received in that part of the world. With input and editing from Sylvain Chauveau, however, this album comes with high credentials and high expectations, perhaps taking folk electronica into a new territory. The jury is still out on this one, but perhaps that is the whole point of “la la la”? Perhaps Felicia Atkinson’s world simultaneously beckons as it challenges our sensibilities? Make up your own mind..well worth a listen. BGN.