Hailing from Toronto, twin sisters Sari and Romy Lightman are the two halves comprising weird-folk duo Tasseomancy (formerly, Ghost Bees). Strangely their first EP, released back in 2008 under the original guise was entitled Tasseomancy and was named as such after the twins’ great-great grandmother who practiced the method of divination and whose image is seen on the record cover.
Reincarnating as Tasseomancy, and altering the project’s sound; broadening their experimentation through the incorporation of hebraic song with synths, while mandolin and stunning falsetto harmonies are interrupted by the woozy reverb of electric guitar, the Lightman sisters have created a conversely delicate and eerie aura.
Last week’s album release show at London venue CAMP exposed a short yet evocative set illuminating their talents as songwriters and songmakers, but more so as mood makers. Their debut record Ulalume they informed the intimate crowd was the “first to be released on a candle”, by which they meant if you purchased their album you would find a download code alongside the designed candle, artwork, tracklisting and an excerpt from Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “Ulalume”. And while you can buy this record physically it seems you might be missing the point of the ‘experience’ without lighting the candle to listen by.
The duo; assisted by Austra drummer Maya Postepski produced an atmospheric mood, one supported by their abrasive one moment, ambient the next sounds, and again it was a mood emphasised by the projections of ballerinas, dream-like dancers and floating silhouettes in lucid movement. It was a set that worked for the most part perfectly, yet these moments of transition were often interjected by affable banter, and thankings of the audience. Something that feels horrific to criticise and yet that left alone would have rendered their works all the more captivating.
Much of their sound bears the influence of Taylor Kirk’s production, the fellow Canadian who, performing with his band Timber Timbre executes this complex mix of both dread and beauty through an uninterrupted set of ghoulish musings performed cloaked, hooded and muted but for his lyrics. Tasseomancy are perfect performers, whose celestial vocals never once faltered, but there is a sense that they need to hone the vacuum in which their elegiac album is released. Their hypnotising ambience somehow felt lost in the CAMP Basement venue, as it proved perhaps an unsuitable space for this endeavour. Certain numbers such as the eerie ‘Heavy Sleep’ felt vacant and lost, while conversely ‘Diana’, where the ethereal, falsettos wrapped around each other and the Lightman sisters sang as ones possessed, shone as brightly as the recording.
Truly captivating musicians who show all the promise on record, but could perhaps succeed for an air of mystery in a live setting.
Ulalume is released on Turf Records on 12th Sept