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Why I Love Imogen Heap and her Album, Ellipse.
Imogen Heap and Ellipse...
Imogen Heap is a Grammy winning, British Singer/Songwriter/Musician/Artist. I’ve been a huge fan of hers for many years, way back from the days when she teamed up with Producer, Guy Sigsworth, to become Frou Frou. It was then, I first discovered her. Her voice is so distinctive – a delicate tone, with a folk flavour, soul whispers and occasional rasp – altogether creating a sumptiously, delicious sound.
Her album, Ellipse, is her 3rd solo album and came out back in August 2009, and to me, is a very special collection of songs. After her second solo album Speak For Yourself, I started to follow her on Youtube. Week after week, she released video blogs (vblogs) with updates of how she’s getting on with the album and sharing clips of the songs that she’s working on. She would then ask for us to add comments on what we think, so it was like we were helping influence her album somehow.
I was hooked. Imogen Heap is an incredibly talented (classically trained) creative individual and the story of how she created this album is wonderful. In a nutshell, she moved back into her childhood home and basically renovated it, and brought it back to life. She built her own studio in the basement, and it was there that the album took shape. Each and every song on the Ellipse is made up of sounds made from the home. From rhythms played on her corrugated ceiling, to the sounds made by running a wheelbarrow around the alleyway around her house. She even created her own wine glass xylophone. It’s absolutely fascinating – and above all, incredibly inspiring.
What are my favourite songs on the album?
My favourite song on the album is Bad Body Double. Essentially, it’s a song about body image and how people perceive themselves – and how the body double in the mirror can get the better of her. That’s nice and everything, but the reason I like it, is because the whole song is recorded in the bathroom! There are sections where she’s singing in the shower, and the dripping water and banging on the pipes, put together an eerily enchanting composition.
There is another song that I love called The Fire. It’s essentially a piano instrumental piece, with a recording of a bonfire from her garden in the background. It’s so delicate, yet hauntingly beautiful. The sort of thing you would expect to find on a Chill Out compilation album. I’m not being bias, but I genuinely can’t find a song on the album that I’m not too keen on…although at a push, I would choose Little Bird, I just find the melody a bit repetitive – but I’m also aware whilst I type this, that it’s a fan favourite!
Now I can't pick a third for my top3 album tracks - I have another two. These are Swoon, 2 - 1, Wait It Out and Half Life (OK, that's four more, not two - so sue me, it's really tricky picking favourites from a great album, y'know). The melody on Swoon is gorgeous. I loved watching the evolution of 2 - 1 (which was originally called Polyfiller) in Imogen's vblog and I love the story-telling in the track. Wait It Out is a beautiful tragic ballad about a breakup - and there's something about Half Life that makes tears well up in my eyes, every time, it's kinda embarrassing! The song is about unrequited love and I was going through a tough time when I first heard it properly. Annoyingly, I was on the tube, so felt like a complete idiot negotiating London underground with tears streaming down my face!
Immi and her fans:
Imogen Heap has a huge fan following, and what’s so endearing is the way she embraces and communicates with them – - through Twitter predominantly. She LOVES technology and music, and the places and ways that technology can push musical boundaries. When she went to the Grammys for her nomination of Best Engineered Album (non-classical) – which she won, by the way, and yes it was for THIS album. She asked her fans to message her on Twitter using a special hashtag. Then to the ceremony, she wore a special necklace (that actually looked more like a huge high-tech collar), that had tiny LEDs that worked as a ticker-tape with her fan’s hashtag messages – super cool, right?
I was lucky enough to see her live at the Albert Hall, on her tour and she was charming, captivating and charismatic. It was incredible the way she performed live – she would record herself on stage, making a background melody on her wine glass xylophone, which was then played on loop throughout the song – it was a spectacle watching her layer her music. Stunning and truly beautiful.
Who does Imogen Heap compare to?
If you like artists such as Feist, Regina Spektor and Sia, you will probably like Imogen Heap. If you fancy listening to some music that isn’t mainstream, and little bit different – you should check this out. To be honest, all her music is great (and she is preparing her 4th solo album - which she has asked fans to submit their footprints for the front cover, so we’re all walking on the journey on album creation together, super cute, right?) but I really love this album. Again, it was just made that little bit more special by actually being able to follow the creation of the album on youtube. I can’t recommend the album highly enough!
If you're reading this from the UK, it might be kinda silly to buy this from the America Amazon...but don't fret you can buy Imogen Heap's Ellipse album from Amazon.co.uk, here right now!
Imogen Heap's vblogs about the creation of ELLIPSE...
So those vblogs I was talking about earlier, I thought it would make sense to add them here. I've chosen a collection of some of my favourite ones. If you're umming and ahhing about whether or not you would like Imogen Heap, and even if you're a little bit sure about how she put her second solo album together, take a few minutes and watch a couple. Be careful, because you might spend up to an hour sat here watching, and watching...and watching!
Had you heard of Imogen Heap before you read this review?
Ok, so what else has Imogen Heap released?
Here's a little selection of more Imogen Heap music that you really should know about.
Go on, treat yourself...your ears will be oh so happy that you did!
Have you heard the Jason Derula song "Watcha say?", well that song samples Imogen Heap's amazing track "Hide and Seek", which is on this album. Another brilliant album, and of course, you should buy this one too!