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JULIE TIPPETTS & MARTIN ARCHER: Vestigium

Ms Driscoll’s back with jazzy grooves, electronica and fiery vocals.

Heard the story about the pop singer who quit the business at the height of their fame in the late 60s, and went on to release a sequence of artistically ambitious albums over the intervening decades?

While Scott Walker fits the description it applies also to Julie Driscoll. After her marriage to UK jazz musician (and sometime King Crimson collaborator) Keith Tippett, she embarked on an extraordinary musical reinvention. If your only frame of reference is This Wheel’s On Fire, her 1968 hit with Brian Auger’s Trinity, then Vestigium will be a shock to the system. Her beguiling cool and soulful fire remains intact from that era. This fourth collaboration with multi-instrumentalist Martin Archer features a seductive, exotic soundworld that both cossets and challenges Tippetts’ intricately layered vocals as they accrue and converge into startling harmonies. Over two discs, her words ricochet off sub-strata pulses, terse ambient shifts and urgent beats. Poetic cadences glower and fret amid luscious swarms of simmering brass, buzzing double bass and darting acerbic electric guitar. An intense, shapeshifting tour de force, it could well be her best since 1975’s classic Sunset Glow.