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Bat For Lashes


Country of origin:

Natasha Khan born in Pakistan, now lives in England

Type of music generally:

Beautiful & fierce evocative/eclectic alternative pop

Status:

Most recent release, The Bride (2016)

See also:

Bat For Lashes' site

Bat For Lashes Myspace page

Comparisons:

Björk, PJ Harvey, Kate Bush, Cat Power, My Brightest Diamond

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

Bat For Lashes is odd and beautiful. The sounds and compositions are rich, and Natasha Khan's vocals are mesmerizing. (Neile)

I can see the Cat Power comparison a little bit in terms of tone and texture, but I'd say Natasha is far less narcoleptic than Chan Marshall.
     I'd say My Brightest Diamond (which is basically a woman named Shara Worden, in rotating arrangements with various collaborators) is a better comparison, if you've heard them.
     My Brightest Diamond's Bring me the Workhorse came out last year... Both Shara and Natasha have strong, trained voices, and are trying to merge classical and pop/rock impulses. In the artful, moody Ectoish way, not the cornball, yuck-yuck, my-ears-are-bleeding Josh Groban/Il Divo kind of way.
     Both albums are strong, but neither *quite* live up to my expectations for them. They're really, really good (which is saying a lot), but not thrilling. I think it's an issue of songwriting, composition and production not offering as many surprises as I believe they're capable of. (timjy@sbcglobal.net)

Comments about live performance:

I enjoyed the mixture of art, paganism and shoddiness. By the last I partially mean the home-made nature of the visuals—the golden headbands (ears sticking out, glowing pink) and mismatching outfits (two reminding me of my old brown girl guide uniform)—if they had looked like glamorous dark priestesses when gathered around the red-lit drum or striking sticks on the floor, it wouldn't have been half as charming. Also the music had a lovely lack of polish with jangly bells and drums and recorded beats and an altogether punkish approach to what could be too precious and fairytale-like.
     I wonder what they'll turn into. They sounded like a young band and often their kind of individuality disappears with polish and more learned songwriting, but at the same time they didn't seem quite there yet musically (to me).
     They played less than an hour! Work ethic, people! Perhaps it is a venue policy.
     I enjoyed them live, but moreso on record. Live I felt I was watching a high school art class putting on a musical production, what with the costumes and artsy arrangements and charming youthfulness. Recommended, nonetheless. (9/07)
     I saw her perform most of The Bride live and got pretty bored :( My favorite tracks were "In God's House" and "Sunday Love" (liked the primal energy of the live version) but cringed during much of the rest. Lots of cliches.
     She moves wonderfully when performing, and her voice is lovely, but the non-Bride tracks she played at the end of the concert were so much lovelier and original. (6/2016, Karen Hester) k_hester_k@yahoo.co.nz)

I just saw Bats for Lashes in Philly last night and they were brilliant. (9/07, brni @ kappamaki . com)

Recommended first album:

The Haunted Man

Recordings:


Fur and Gold

Release info:

2006—Echo (U.K.)—ECHCD 72; 2007—Caroline Records (U.S.)

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Abi Fry—viola (1, 3, 8, 9 10, 11)
Caroline Weeks—autohardp (3), backing vocals (3, 6, 8), guitar (6, 7, 8)
Mary Funnell & Ana McInerney—violins (8)
Tim Byford—drums (1, 4, 10, 11)
Josh T. Pearson—guitar (2, 11), backing vocals (2, 9), vocals (11)
Ben Christophers—bass, guitar (4, 6, 10)
Sophie Sirota & Howard Gott—violins (1, 2, 8)
Emma Ransdale—harp (1, 4)
Tim Hutton—trumpet, trombone (1)
Rachael T. Sell—backing vocals (10)
Mike Goodman—vocal sea sounds (9)
David Kosten—keyboards (9), special foot taps (8)
Natasha Khan—vocals (all), keyboards (1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 10), piano (3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11), percussion (1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 10), drums (2, 4, 6), Hammond organ (5), autoharp (7), guitar (9), vibraphone (9), sounds (11), harmonium (6)

Guest artists:

David Kosten—additional keyboards, programming
Natasha Khan, Abi Fry, Mary Funnell & Ana McInerney—string arrangements

Produced by:

David Kosten & Natasha Khan

Comments:

For once the hype pays off and the critics and I were in tune: Fur and Gold is fantastic. A weird and wonderful album, haunting and atmospheric, sounding at times like Björk and PJ Harvey jamming on a bleak moor beneath a full moon. Definitely ecto material, highly recommended, and well worth tracking down. I've been thoroughly jaded this year, and this is one of the very, very few new albums that have excited me to this extent. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

What a lovely, strange album. I find this album fascinating. When I listen to it, it really feels like a fantasy epic. I'm totally transported. It feels dangerous and magical and it's totally involving.
     I love it. I don't get the Kate comparison, except perhaps that she deals with some quirky topics in her songs.
     Great album, I'd definitely check it out. (jonwesleyhuff@gmail.com)

So. Anyway. I found out about Bat For Lashes, pseudonym for singer-songwriter Natasha Khan, and her album (from what I've heard of it) is actually really nice, although I'm not seeing the Kate comparisons. Maybe Cat Power with a more trained voice. I think. I know I want to compare this to someone but I just can't think of who...anyway. It's good stuff. I really like it. (lotterose @ gmail . com)

I see the Björk and PJ Harvey meeting on a moor comparison, but I also get a strong sense that she coming a music from a Kate Bush-like place, especially lyrically. A powerful debut, and one of my favourite discs of both 2006 (I got the U.K. edition) and 2007 (I'll count it twice). (Neile)

What a lovely, strange album. I find this album fascinating. When I listen to it, it really feels like a fantasy epic. I'm totally transported. It feels dangerous and magical and it's totally involving. (jonwesleyhuff@gmail.com)


Two Suns

Release info:

2009—Astralwerks—ASW 5099969302022

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Natasha Khan—lead vocal, backing vocals, synths, drums programming, guitar, piano, harmonium, handclaps, percussion, string machine, bass synth, vibraphone, claps, organ

Guest artists:

Ben Christophers—marsophone (1), pianochord (1), synths (1, 4), guitar (5), phonofiddle (6)
Caroline Weeks—backing vocals (1, 2), synth (1), flute (1, 6), bells (1), handclaps (3), percussion (3)
Kath Mann—backing vocals (1), saw (1), violin (4), viola (6)
Alex Thomas—drums (1, 6, 10), percussion (1, 4), tympani (6)
David Kosten—drum programming (1, 2, 4, 7, 9), synths (2, 5, 7) percussion (2, 7, 9), synth drone (6), toms (9), fingers (9)
Abi Fry—violin (1)
Adem—sampled wine glasses (1)
Ira Wolf Tuton—bass (2, 4, 7)
Chris Keating—drum programming (2, 7)
Devin Maxwell—trimpani (4)
Devon Dunaway—backing vocals (5)
Robert Roseberry Jr.—backing vocals (5)
Lydia Rhodes—backing vocals (5)
Marcie Allen—backing vocals (5)
Rachel Sell—backing vocals (8)
Brian Hale—guitar (8)
Louis P. Rogai Jr.—backing vocals
Tom Asselin—guitar (10)
Scott Walker—additional vocals (11)

Produced by:

Natasha Khan and David Kosten

Comments:

Mindblowingly good. (lotterose @ gmail . com)

Oh, and just to throw my support in for Bat for Lashes new album. I was an early convert to her first album but, oddly, played it again recently and it didn't do anything for me. I also felt a little trepidation when about the new one, but I really, really like it. She definitely broadens her musical palate, while retaining that spooky Björk-meets-PJ Harvey-on-a-moonlit-moor vibe that I noted the first time round. It's not as harrowing as my namechecking suggests: think of the gentler, more haunting sides of both of these artists. I don't like it as much as I know I should and certainly thought I would on first listening, but it still hangs in there as an enjoyable, spooky album. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

I'm so surprised there hasn't been more talk of this album on here. I have to say the first time I heard Fur and Gold I was hooked. I mean mentally I just went there. She grabbed me and pulled me into her strange world and I was right there beside her as she marched through these fever dreams masquerading as songs. I loved it. There was something dangerous and epic and sweeping and yet somehow incredibly intimate about the album. From the driving lines of "Horse and I" to the strange mysteries of "The Wizard" through the stomp-clapping of "Prescilla" and into the soft embrace of "Into The Light..." I was enchanted. I listened to it obsessively for a while.
     So... I approached Two Suns with some trepidation. Could she craft a worthy follow-up to an album that had affected me so? The answer is a definitive yes. If we were swept away into a fantasy world with Fur and Gold then Two Suns (perhaps quite appropriately) feels like being thrust into outer space. The driving drums are still there but her voice takes on a spectral aura here. The opener "glass" is another great start, starting off quiet and then pulling you in. When she starts singing "to be made of glass" into the ether... well I had chills.
     I really appreciate that she's taken the music into some new directions with this album. It's still easy to identify as her music, but there are lots of interesting new textures in the mix that really liven everything up and keep it fresh. Perhaps one thing that shouldn't be overlooked is how catchy these songs can be. Not in a pop sort of way...but there are some great melodies and everything is so propulsive and exciting. There's a mix of songs here from the fantastic and throbbing to the soft and lullaby-esque. Now it's not a perfect album. I'd say somewhere in the middle it starts to ramble a bit and loses some of its edge. But it's still listenable and not boring. It's just not as forgettable. Thankfully around "Good Love" things get back on track and the album ends on a strong note. I'm a bit torn on "The Big Sleep." I like the song but I'm not sure how I feel about the way Scott Walker's vocals mesh with hers. But it's still a beautiful ending song. (jonwesleyhuff@gmail.com)

I confess to worrying a little too if I would like this as much as Fur and Gold. It's hard to pull off that mix of skirting cheesiness and seriousness and gorgeousness—and turning it into gold, and yet she does it again, and without simply repeating herself. This is a delight. (Neile)

I think I like this album even better than her first. (jjhanson@att.net)


The Haunted Man

Release info:

2012—Capitol—509993 27049 2 1

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Natasha Khan—vocals, autoharp, bass synth, clarinet synth, celeste, horn synth, beat programming, glass percussion, synths, piano, harp; string arrangement (3, 6); woodwind arrangement (6)

Guest artists:

David Kosten—keyboards, programming and beats, drum programming, guitar, piano, percussion, synths, vocoder programming, harmonium beat
Dan Carey—beat programming, drum programming, guitar, piano, percussion, bass, programming, synths, omnisphere synth, samples, atmospheric sounds
Dave Sitek—synth sound (1); synths (9)
Finn Vine—guitar (1, 3)
Leo Taylor—live drums (1, 9); drums (4)
John Metcalfe—orchestral arrangement (1); samples (1, 3); additional programming, arrangement and conducting (7)
Everton Nelson, Rick Koster, Ali Dods, Ian Humphries, Louisa Fuller, Jeff Moore, Kate Robinson, Natalia Bonner—violins (2, 7, 8)
Bruce White, Nick Barr, Vicky Wardman—violas (2, 7, 8)
Ian Burdge, Chris Worsey, Sophie Harris—cellos (2, 7, 8)
Sally Herbert—arrangement and conducting (2, 8); additional arrangement (7)
Michael Spearman—drums (3, 7, 9)
Jeremy Pritchard—bass (3, 9)
T.J. Allen—synths (3)
Adrian Utley—additional synths, guitars (3)
Tim Pigott-Smith—violin (3, 6)
Oli Langford—violin (3,6); string arrangement (3); additional arrangement (6)
Maximillian Baillie—viola (3, 6)
Lucy Railton—cello (3, 6)
Rob Ellis—marimba, drums (4); choral singer (7)
Brendan Ashe—piano (4); choral singer, choral arrangement (7)
Eliza Marshall—bass flute (6); flute (7, 8)
Sarah Jones—backing vocals (7)
Ben Christophers—choral singer (7)
Richard Pryce, Steve Rossell—double basses (7, 8)
Richard Watkins—French horn (7, 8)
Dan Newell—trumpet (7, 8)
Mike Kearsey—trombone (7, 8)
Chris Vatalaro—timpani (7, 8)
Beck Hansen—guitar, synths, beat programming and drum machine (8)
Charlotte Hatherley—additional arrangement (8)
Tariq Khan—synth (10)
James Ford—synths and programming (10)

Produced by:

Natasha Khan (1-4, 6-11), David Kosten (1, 3, 6-9), Dan Carey (2, 4, 8-11)

Comments:

When I first heard this album I thought it seemed slow and a bit dull. But on second listen it didn't sound that way to me at all, and with each subsequent listen I find more and more to enjoy. I do think it's a quieter album than her previous two, maybe subtler is an even better description. But it's still brilliant, and it doesn't poop out towards the end the way Two Suns does. (JoAnn Whetsell)

I saw the Bat For Lashes performance on iTunes Festival (the app, not the live show) and I thought the new songs were brilliant, even if "Oh Yeah" was a little bit on the cheesy side of things (I've later come to revise that view). When I got the album, I was disappointed at first as it starts out with a rather dull track ("Lilies") and some of the other not-so-brilliant tracks ("Marilyn," "The Haunted Man," "A Wall," or "Deep Sea Diver" seem to stretch ad infinitum at first listen. But after a while, I've found that most tracks got consistent high ratings when listened to in isolation and it's only the mixture that drags the album down with these aforementioned tracks. I really loved Fur and Gold, and Two Suns was a complete letdown in comparison. The Haunted Man is somewhere in between but the songs are completely fresh and don't feel like a rip-off of earlier songs (most tracks on Two Suns felt that way). (raschee@gmail.com)

One of the best albums of the year. (jjhanson@att.net, stjarnell@yahoo.com) There are a couple of not-outstanding tracks, but the stronger tracks more than make up for it. "Laura" is an astonishingly gorgeous torch song, and the title track is powerful. I would say that overall this album is more than a win. It's pretty great, and definitely one of the best albums of the year. (Neile)


The Bride

Release info:

2016—Warner Bros—555370-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Natasha Khan—vocals, omnichord, drum programming, keys, mandolin, pocket piano, synths, drums, harp, farfisa organ, guitar, celesta, vibraphone, synth bass, drum machine, claps

Guest artists:

Ben Christophers—bowed guitar (1); bass (1, 4, 6); sound effects (4); vocals, piano (6)
David Baron—bass, synth (1); Rhodes (2); synths, programming (2, 3, 7); sound effects (8)
Jacknife Lee—synths, programming, samples (2)
Alex Reeves—trumpet (2); timpani (4, 8); drums, percussion (8)
Simone Felice—drums (3)
Rachael Yamagata and Sandy Bell—backing vocals (4, 7)
Lou Rogai—guitars (4); bass, guitar (11, 12); backing vocals (11)
Dan Carey—programming, synths (5)
Leo Taylor—drums (5)
Dawn Landes—guitar, backing vocals (8)
Kevin Salem—guitar (8)
Davide Rossi—strings (9, 12)
Matt Hales—drum programming, synths (12)

Produced by:

Natasha Khan; co-producers Simone Felice, David Baron, Head, Ben Christophers; Jacknife Lee (2); Dan Carey (5); Matt Hales (12)

Comments:

One of the best albums of the year. (timjy@sbcglobal.net, lotterose @ gmail . com)

I like about half of it a lot, but the other half leaves me cold, sadly. (Neile)

On first listen, I found the album so boring I couldn't finish it. But I tried again, and the album has since grown on me quite a bit. I don't think it's as strong as her previous albums, but songs like "Sunday Love" are among her best. (JoAnn Whetsell)


Further info:

Compilation work includes:

  • "Sweet Dreams" (Eurythmics cover) on Radio 1's Live Lounge (2008)
  • "A Forest" on Perfect As Cats: A Tribute to the Cure (2008)

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