I was really late to the game in discovering, nay digesting, Noah Wall’s Hèloïse album that came out over a year ago. I can’t remember how the subject came up, but I was having a conversation with my friend Dwight and Wall’s repertoire was mentioned. Later that day Hèloïse landed in my inbox and I’ve been smitten since. This album, thankfully released on both cassette (via Crash Symbols) and vinyl (via Noah Himself), is an homage, a letter of gratitude to his mother, Heloise Wall. The music here is deconstructed and reassembled in unexpected ways, taking songs that in their unaltered form would be instantly recognizable to most, but through Wall’s deft touch are reborn as something new.
There’s a wonderfully forlorn monotony to most of the voices on Hèloïse. It does not come from laziness or lack of effort, but it reads as an attempt to put on a brave face, to try and keep the heavy emotions obviously at work here in check as much as possible. In conjunction with the lush arrangements (see “Public Dancer” especially), the dichotomy is beautifully dizzying. There’s practically a tug of war taking place within the confines of Hèloïse and experiencing it from the outside, as a listener, is powerful. This is music that exudes shaded, but still positive energy. Wall’s homage is an intensely personal journey but by bringing the public along for the ride it becomes something more, bigger. I’m just happy I managed to catch a trailing tail before it floated away entirely.
Crash Symbols has very few tapes left. I highly recommend grabbing one (or a record!) while you can.