As you may have realized, XLR8R generally focuses on music primarily made with circuits, software, or some kind of combination of the two, so coverage of London-via-Chicago folk artist One Little Plane's sophomore LP, Into the Trees, might come off as strange. But the songwriter, known from birth as Kathryn Bint, enlisted electronic music doyen Kieran Hebden (a.k.a. Four Tet) for production duties on the album, spiking our interest in this otherwise un-electronic, folksy collection of songs. Into the Trees is mostly devoid of synths, chopped-up vocal samples, and the like, but change can be refreshing sometimes.
Hebden's productions as Four Tet have always lent a direct physicality to organic tones, and his work with One Little Plane is no exception. The opening track, "She Was Out in the Water," recalls the hi-hat-driven, guitar-arpeggiated flutter of Four Tet's There is Love in You closer "She Just Likes to Fight." Bint's delicate voice, flanked by a chorus of flickering, gainy electric guitars, pierces the mix with startling immediacy. Nearly all of the album's pieces feature a gorgeous accord of a large number of electric and acoustic guitars—call it folk maximalism, or perhaps Wall of Kieran.
But Hebden's production is only a small part of the story—Bint isn't just a good songwriter, she's a diverse one. One Little Plane travels from quirky folk-rock on the album opener to noodling, '90s indie-influenced rock on "Paper Planes," which draws from the disarmingly melodic catalogs of long-lost groups like Autoclave and Belly. The penultimate "I Know" recalls the fierce nature of PJ Harvey's early work. On the other end of the spectrum, Bint breaks down stylistically and emotionally on "It's Alright," an intimate folk tune, while surrounded by a forest of arpeggios and harmonics. "You know I could make you pay/If I didn't feel the same way/Close the door and shut your mouth/Just take me as I am," Bint sings on "It's Alright," a highlight of the biting discourse she reveals over the span of the Into the Trees.
"Bloom," the album's centerpiece, is the only track that doesn't feature Hebden's studio orchestra-de-axe (to which Colin Greenwood of Radiohead contributed bass). Instead, it's a solemn pause, featuring Into the Trees' most singularly electronic feature, a delaying, pinging synth tone. This slender sound makes up the entirety of "Bloom"'s accompaniment, leaving the listener to bask in Bint's tender poetics, which is indeed the driving force of these 10 tracks. "We will stay here until we bloom." Unfortunately, only for 40 minutes.