From: Musical Discoveries [url]
Date: September 28, 2005

Terami Hirsch
Entropy 29
Album Review

Review and interview © Russell W. Elliot and Jamie Field


Entropy 29 (Madstone Records (USA) 040605-07, 2005) is the third, and most richly produced, album by Los Angeles-based singer songwriter Terami Hirsch. The three-year-in-the-making project follows the artist's issue of the four-track Little Light EP that contains two tracks from Entropy 29, a remix and a bonus b-side as well as three earlier full length albums: To the Bone (2002) and All Girl Band. Terami also previously issued three additional EPs entitled respectively 3 of X (2003), Stickfigures (2002) and Stained Sampler (2002). Note that Entropy 29 is scheduled for release in November 2005.

Although the project was produced with all of the heart wrenching emotion and musical ambiance of her former projects, Terami brought in guest artists to contribute to the project, including: Hector Ferreiro (Bass), Carter Dewberry (Cello), Emily Spaude (Violin), Kevin Benson (Mr. Tambourine Man). A striking similarity to the material of Tori Amos is immediately drawn from the piano-based arrangements. Terami's vocals are emotive and evocative, and are layered at times, soaring above the arrangements providing wonderful backing harmonies. That she put the vocal tracks down in the bathroom of her southern California home is certainly not evident in the final production. The vocalise and backing harmonies in "Drifting" are equisitely performed and beautifully recorded.

Entropy 29 shows a continuing development from her previous albums. It is, she says "the first project that has consumed my life," and listening to the album one can appreciate how this might well have been the case as it's a far more ambitious work than anything she's released before, not only lyrically and musically, but also conceptually.

Her clever use of simple piano motiffs as introductions to a number of tracks--although each is slightly different--helps to give the album a cohesive feel, and whilst the listener can decide for themselves whether on not to consider Entropy 29 a concept album, there are certainly ideas and themes that reappear throughout the work. In an interview on fan site Sky Bleeds Scorpio, Terami lists these as "Time travel. Space travel. Ghosts. Lucid Dreaming. Parallel realities." The site itself summarizes the album as – "an inner journey, weaving stories of loss and childhood through a backdrop of science fiction." So we're all a lot clearer now, right?

While the inevitable comparisons with Tori Amos's style are bound to continue, they're much less evident on this outing than on To the Bone. The use of guest musicians and more imaginative arrangements have given Terami a lot more scope to experiment. There's also a growing Kate Bush influence on a number of the tracks,notably "When It's Dark," "Anywhere but Here," and perhaps most obviously on "Love." Followers of Jennifer Terran, Lisa Germano and even Bjork--listen to the opening 45 seconds of the closing track "Timberline" for example--are also going find much here to please them.

Maybe in all this talk of concepts, there's a danger of looking too hard for connections and actually missing the fact that, whatever the genesis of the pieces or the album's raison d'etre, this is a gorgeous, if notably dark, collection of songs. Three years of hard work has paid off--it is a tremendous project, worthy of exploration entirely in its own right without comparison to other artists. The world eagerly awaits the November, 2005 release!

--Russ Elliot in New York and Jamie Field in Kington, Herefordshire [Five stars]