Band of the Day

2011.10.26

Anomie Belle

Sultry trip hop with rich swathes of electronica and R&B
Don't give out on me, my hope, my apathy. You know, it ain't easy maintaining my belief that we are free.
lyrics from How Can I Be Sure

Anomie Belle, a trip hop musician, began tracking original music at the age of ten upon receiving a karaoke machine with a tape recorder from her parents. Classically trained as a violinist, she taught herself throughout the years to play piano, sing and perform percussion and record. Experiencing a sense of creative dissatisfaction, Belle spent her post-college years learning how to program drums, working as a studio musician and DJing in North America, Europe and South America. With considerable influence from her international travels, she moved to Seattle, Washington in 2006 and spent the next two years recording her debut self-released LP entitled Sleeping Patterns. The album's song "How Can I Be Sure" experienced mainstream appreciation after it was featured in an episode of Jersey Shore as well as in an XBox 360 video game. She would spend the next three years touring as a solo artist and backing musician for other bands, as well as recording new material. In 2011 she released her sophomore LP The Crush.

There was a time when most band members were also good musicians. Nowadays the power of music software means it doesn't take a whole lot of instrumental talent or training to make complex music. So it's even more refreshing when someone like Anomie Belle comes along: a skilled songwriter, classical violinist, composer, and producer. Anomie Belle, a.k.a. Seattle-based Toby Campbell, makes densely layered trip hop influenced by '90s pioneers like Massive Attack and Portishead. Her gorgeously orchestrated, down tempo compositions don't sound a bit dated though. The glitchy hip hop beats and warm swathes of jazz, funk and electronic textures sound fresh and ready for an enveloping headphone experience or live show. Anomie Belle released her debut Sleeping Patterns in 2008, and followed that with September 2011's The Crush. Both albums expertly mix a variety of genres including R&B, hip hop, jazz and even folk. Though still quite downtempo, The Crush is more energetic than Sleeping Patterns and strong throughout its twelve tracks. The outstanding first single “Inky Drips” layers a prancing keyboard line over a hip hop beat before darting into a trip hop meets gospel chorus guaranteed to earn earworm status. Campbell's voice is unexpected - she sounds breathy and ancient, but after the initial surprise you realize how well it suits the music as her wavering coo provides a totally different texture to music that's already filled with loads of great textures. “It's a Crush” is a a moody Portishead style track. It mixes sweeping violins with skittering beats and aggressive electric guitars as Campbell coos over it all. While Anomie Belle isn't really breaking new ground, she manages to forge her own sound out of the mixture of hip hop, electronic music and R&B. At times it's haunting, beautiful, gripping, and even creepy, but always skilfully crafted.