Written and produced during an artist residency in the North East of England, The Circle Dance sees Me Lost Me aka Jayne Dent continuing to stretch her fingers out into nature, future and place. A sense of immersion into curated environments is quickly established across the EP’s five songs, the record immediately placing the listener in Dent’s headphones / headspace on a shingle-washed beach as she moves in between the coastal landscape and subtle electronics manipulations.
Dent’s vocals do owe a nod to traditional English folk music, her clear long notes and pure delivery bringing to mind the form. Probably not enough, though, to have warranted the tagging of Me Lost Me to several hastily invented something-folk genres. If there’s a touchstone that The Circle Dance really recalls, it’s the ‘give the song what it needs’ access to sound elements and a vision of openhearted clarity / humanity that an auteur like Bjork creates across her projects. This EP offers an idiosyncratic, thoughtful, and hopeful expression that brushes its fingertips delicately through the waters of analog, digital, emotion, and abstraction.
The title track’s loose braids of buffeting wind, seagull squall, and splurge of strange drones flow throughout the song like a treacle thick wave. The pulse of sounds within the irregular elements of “The Circle Dance” form a rhythm of sorts, as its spare use of woodwind and double bass moves with Dent as solid forms within the formless. “Acrobat on the Roof” has the anchor of a more conventional rhythm, swaying to the nod of a rhythm track that seems part dance floor and part Folk in the backroom table tap. The song codas off into a mild jazzy skronk of live clarinet and double bass that sees birdsong and vocal layers floating as a warm swoon over the beats.
This EP interlocks the fingers of electronica with soundscapes, conjuring up visual stimuli that aren’t there. Three tracks here feature field recordings from nearby water, and another (though not having directly sampled) is based on the experience of crossing an expanse of water. All five tracks though manage to summon the presence of location as a backdrop. “Sing to the Sun” swirlingly channels the hope of dawn (the concept, the reality, the effect, the time), an image that would be as clear a part of the record even if it didn’t mention the sun in its lyric or title. It’s the record’s most gentle piece, Dent’s light touch evident in the space left in the song.
Early on in the EP, there’s a lyric “We’re courting balance. Working with, not against, the tide” that helps to sum up the records sound. Its moments of communion, both with the world she hopes to see and with places she has been.