Badlands - So Little (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


So Little (2013)

Bite The Cactus / Ghostbot

Adrian Chi Tenney was one-third of God Equals Genocide, is 50% of Spokenest and now is the whole of Badlands, a solo venture created using a laptop as a portable studio and a host of both conventional and unconventional (Balinese, Gamelan) instruments, in addition to her own voice which is used singularly and also in a choir-like fashion. These factors combine to deliver a rich-sounding release in So Little that even through the richness, has a certain desert-like sparseness to it. An easy, initial reference point would be Waxahatchee's American Weekend, but Badlands come across as a more expansive creation than Katie Crutchfield's debut solo effort.

The cover of the cassette features a picture (presumably of Tenney) sat atop a rock overlooking a wide expanse of desert, obviously as a precursor of the concept therein; three of the tracks include references to desert rain whilst another, "Wind Storm," acts as a reminder that while we might like to think of the earth as ours, at times we are powerless when nature is at its most fierce.

Songs like "Waste" and "You Would Wait (I)" have a hypnotic, intoxicating quality to them. These songs were designed to wash over the listener, seep into their bodies and inhabit their whole being–while also leaving them oddly relaxed and at ease with the world. Tenney's combination of vocals of musical abilities is nothing short of sublime. If there's one shortcoming, it's that the instrumental track "Bali" could be longer; at just short of a minute long, it's a tranquil, enjoyable piece of work.

So Little is a fine example of an artist spreading her wings, working alone in order to delve into the possibilities that music offers, and not being limited to what is expected. Some might say that's pretentious, but if music was constrained by what is acceptable to others we wouldn't have had bands such as the Butthole Surfers and Big Boys; in fact, punk rock might not have happened at all.