10 Track, LP (2012, Inertia Access)
The recent emergence of acts like Grimes and Purity Ring have not only blurred the boundaries of genres like electronica and hip-hop, but also questioned who gets to say and do what within them. The ambient bedroom beats of Ash Hendriks do something similar, but on a humbler scale. Like Purity Ring, the novelty is in hearing glacial female pitches over programmed beats. Like Grimes, Leure balances the auteur and the amateur in interesting fashion, with borderline school-project sampling jutting up against beautiful vocals and textures.
Hendriks is more restrained than both of these artists, though. Less about the Soulja Boy-style boom bap of Purity Ring or the post-world-music mysticism of Claire Boucher, Leure has more in common with the textural economy of The xx. More interest in what you might call twee-hop: the emotive textures you can coax from just a few looped samples and a keening vocal. Much more sensual and spacious, but also a little bit grating.
Because some of it downright sucks – ‘Flock’, for instance, goes absolutely nowhere, sounding like a mixture of a Doom soundtrack out-take and a toddler mechanically beating cookware. But when Hendriks takes care not to let the percussion off the leash too much, Holland Sky is quite seductive.
Streaked with subtle, ambient touches and lifted by Hendriks’ wispy, ethereal vocals throughout, the album has a largely uniform atmosphere – in that strangely inviting way where nothing sticks out in particular. It also remains fairly schematic, even thin, but again, this seems like a good thing. Maybe she shouldn’t quit her day job in indie folk duo Wolves at the Door, but Leure is a very welcome and perhaps more quietly ambitious diversion for Ash Hendriks.
by Lawson Fletcher