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Niobe White Hats

Look up "indie" in the dictionary and you might see a picture of Cologne-based Yvonne "Niobe" Cornelius. Everything about this Mouse on Mars songbird is strictly anti-commercial: her eerily unsettling, quivering voice (think of a darker Cat Power); her obvious preference for minor keys; and her penchant for distinctly radio-unfriendly arrangements (despite a CD sticker advertising "a variety of pop styles"). Cornelius takes the folk chanteuse element that labels like Morr typically pair with electronic rock, and instead pits her ghostly vocals against any number of musical backgrounds including muted, bittersweet twangs on the rosy-hued reminiscence "Phosphorous," and the wistful, old-world air of "The Hills," where she sounds like a '40s lounge singer. There's even an echo of old Siouxsie and the Banshees harmonies beneath Cornelius' quiet tenor: on "Shirocco & Mistral," a similarly dusky dreaminess blooms within her soft notes, bridging the haunted gap between this world and the next.

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