Captivating music that speaks so very loudly without making much noise at all.
Mike Diver 2011
Young, attractive, active in the bustling Berlin electro scene, signed to the always interesting Bpitch Control: Dillon, born Dominique Dillon de Byington, has a great deal going for her before a single second of this debut album is heard. But expectations – beginning and ending with techno, given the label in question’s pedigree – are dashed by a collection which confounds with a beguiling sound somewhere between muted electronica, chamber-pop and torch songs. Imagine Lykke Li lost in the shadows of Fever Ray’s haunted house, or Hanne Hukkelberg pained by a heart crumbling to dust: that enveloping atmosphere in mind, it’s somewhere close to what this disc offers.
What might be a fairly cold experience, given its most apparent parallels, is anything but – Dillon uses spare beats, subtle orchestrations and background-mixed brass, but everything is bound by a vocal that speaks to the soul, not the soles. This is music for meditation, for contemplation; for escaping into and wandering around, not losing oneself to on a sweaty dancefloor. Indeed, the feet would be hard pushed to muster more than a shuffle to the reserved tempos of tracks like You Are My Winter, the sort of skeletal affair that allows its central vocal to dominate, and to soar. Dillon isn’t a pitch-perfect performer; her sometimes squeaky voice presents a cross-Atlantic comparison to the singular tones of Joanna Newsom. But it’s a presence that infects these pieces with a personality uncommon in discs targeted, primarily, at the dance market. No, This Silence Kills is no upper-end BPM affair, but its branding nevertheless aligns it with a certain market sector.
But if it didn’t reach wider, to those listeners enamoured with above-noted acts – and also the compelling talents of Bat for Lashes, Florence + The Machine and even the grande-dame of anything female-fronted and a little bit outré, Björk – would be a shame. There are moments here, details of songs, which cause the throat to close, the eyes to widen. The sighing accordion of the untitled seventh track, an instrumental that builds to a pulse of wordless phrasing from Dillon; the finger-click percussion of the forbidden love story Thirteen Thirty-Five (the beautiful melody of which is based on/taken from Jens Lekman’s Pocketful of Money); the spiralling piano motifs of Texture of My Blood: these are breath-stealers, instances indicative of an artist who, when she strikes consistency (not quite accomplished here), will not just be one to watch but one to hold close like a loved one not seen for years.
This Silence Kills is bookended by cuts more in keeping with the Bpitch Control catalogue – the opening title-track and dramatic closer Abrupt Clarity are digital designs that move their maker nearer the fare of label alumni Apparat and Modeselektor respectively. But it’s what’s between that captivates: music that speaks so very loudly without making much noise at all.