REVIEW – Rudy Simone: ‘Personal Cloud’ mini-album, 1999 (“contradictory shards and half-formed knots of feeling”)

14 Jul

Rudy Simone: 'Personal Cloud'

Rudy Simone: ‘Personal Cloud’

“I wrap my lips around a cigarette / instead of you,” mourns Rudy Simone on the title track of ‘Personal Cloud’. Her voice pipes and teeters on a precipice of reproach. It’s gently, perpetually, pulled back by beautiful harp-like guitars and throaty bass synth. Here’s a lullaby for the betrayed, somewhere between the sweet hyper-conscious dissolve of a Jane Siberry ballad and a Rose Royce disco symphony. Clasping heartbreak to itself, like an addict in recovery, and gently rocking to soothe; while allowing all of the contradictory shards and half-formed knots of feeling to swim free for a moment, a float of voices and words knocking against each other.

“I thought I was drowning, it was only rain./ Thought I felt fire, it was only smoke. / Never leave me… / Oh, will this world take you from me? / I tried, I tried to leave it alone…”

‘Personal Cloud’ is all about this kind of mixed, eddying feeling. Intensities and unravellings. Throwing vitriol and clinging to loyalty. The need to stab the same person you might be begging to pick you up off the floor two hours later. And if it wavers dramatically – both in its musicality and in its consistency – that’s only in keeping with what it’s about, as Rudy explores her emotional devastation using various forms of music. Club elements invade baggily-hanging acoustic confessionals. Wobbly jazz singing gatecrashes trance-dance. Free association yanks a tune bloodily from its roots. Throughout, moods swing like road-signs in a gale, confusing direction.

 “I swear sometimes I wish an alien will take you from this planet / then I turn around, y’know, / I never meant it,” frets Rudy on Velvet, an all-over-the place straggle of guitar, cello and drums where jealousy, need and pride disrupt each other. At one moment, she’s showing the lover her boot and the door  (“Go on out / take your place and find the one who does it all for you,”). At the next, she’s turned the full blowtorch of greedy sexuality onto him to melt him back down again (“It don’t fit into your plans to be so selfish / when all that velvet is waiting for your kiss…”).

Puppet strings yank themselves; kissing lips bruise on gritted teeth. A foot slides, caressing, up a lover’s calf. The same foot turns and hammers a heel, hard, into his instep.

This kind of tense no-man’s land is a stressful place to be. Sometimes there’s a wordless protest, as expressed in Galactica – cosmic trance-techno, where the lonely cry of a star-burned keening synth is cheered up by a flamboyant crash of bells and bucked up by a roguish, tarry bubble of club bassline. Alternatively, Stronger Than You Know meanders along on its skinny guitar and string synths, changing its shape, like a girl dancing drunkenly across treacherous ground, knowing where to put her feet but lurching dangerously close to disaster. It seems fey, but only because it’s discovered a different kind of resistance, dissolving again to escape damage – “Oh, you’re kicking light, / you’re punching air.”

The militaristic Bjork-ish beat of Glimmer Of Hope, the tension of guitar and listing punchdrunk voice, belies its positivity – “I see a glimmer of hope in the clouds / and it’s all I need to see my way out of this.”  On Feel Like I Belong, the club electronics bang and bubble under one of Rudy’s sweetest bluesiest sighs, and bloody experience is weighed up – “memories can drown if you let them – / just because you can it doesn’t mean that you should.” Only the drunken brooding of surly fuzz-guitar suggests there’s something wrong behind this particular attempt at finding peace.

record-rudysimone-ktcocFar more satisfying (in terms of comfort, anyway) is the spooky guitar and spiralling trip-hop of the haunted single Kill The Cult Of Cool – remarkable in any context, particularly moving here, it sounds like a night’s spiritual battle committed to tape. On the single cover Rudy, visibly haunted, stared down fear out of a circle of tall, slender flames, and the song’s occult, speaking-in-tongues feel is still immediate. Over Gothic movie keyboards, Rudy delivers a Buffy-esque putdown in a cool, girl-with-a-mission voice – “I’ve got nothing but derision for your apocalyptic vision. / Anti-amorous, not glamorous. / Time to kill the cult of cool,” – before rolling off into a weird, syncopated mixture of American indie, sampledelia and trip-hop in which everything seems to slide gracefully in and out of time. Ruminative, sandpapery hip-hop beats do the slippery shuffle-and-collapse in the basement. Frail raga-trance vocal melodies drape themselves in irregular folds over the roof. White noise, static radio fizz and heart-monitor bleeps struggle in and out of the mix: a dreamy staircase of guitars (including a spaghetti-Western dobro) twangs at the heart of the chorus.

The rest is a weave of lost-girl chant and coos, a multiplicity of voices flipping backwards and forwards, a narcotic nuzzle towards solace. “Help up, I shall bless,” keens one line. “Ooh yes, honour – there’s no-one there…” murmurs another. Rudy duels weightlessly with other wounded voices (“I was the quiet one in school, never made any trouble…”) and absentee gods before declaring with quiet assurance, “I don’t care what you say, I’m not crazy.” The fact that this happens at the beginning of ‘Personal Cloud’ – and not as a tidy resolution at the end – suggests that this isn’t the first time she’s had to take up arms against her own crowded inner sea of troubles.

Uneven, unsettling, and mixing awkward un-coordination with gliding grace, ‘Personal Cloud’ reveals the wayward talent of a potential cult heroine – unafraid to grasp at the chaos and trash of the battered heart.

Rudy Simone: ‘Personal Cloud’
Phat Lady Records (no catalogue number or barcode)
CD-R-only mini-album
Released: 1999

Buy it from:
Extremely rare – best found second-hand.

Rudy Simone online:
Homepage Facebook Twitter Bandcamp Last FM YouTube

5 Responses to “REVIEW – Rudy Simone: ‘Personal Cloud’ mini-album, 1999 (“contradictory shards and half-formed knots of feeling”)”

  1. Dann Chinn July 15, 2012 at 12:05 am #

    As far as I know, this is the debut release by Rudy Simone. It’s hard to tell, because she pulled a vanishing act a few years later and her web presence is non-existent: all that’s left are a few meagre scraps on defunct web radio playlists and the odd E-Bay offering.

    As with most of the other reviews posted over the last few days, this originally appeared in the ‘Misfit City’ webzine over a decade ago – one of three Rudy Simone reviews which I’m starting to repost now. Rudy occasionally got in touch at the time. She was an American singer-songwriter who’d fled to the English Midlands to get over a particularly traumatic heartbreak and other personal matters – the songs said it all, or much of it – and she occasionally collaborated with Sheldon Southworth (of the techno act Diffusion).

    A few years after that, she disappeared altogether: Sheldon thought that she’d gone to ground somewhere in Wales and deliberately dropped out of touch. If so, she can be added to the list of reclusive songwriters who should really come out and play again… unless she’s said all that she has to say, in which case good luck to her.

    Still, since Lisa Bailey of the long-lost Bunty Chunks came here and dropped off a blog comment after I’d reposted a Bunty Chunks review, I’m hoping the same might happen with Rudy. (If she does turn out to be the all-singing, all-writing Aspergers-friendly “other” Rudy Simone I mentioned above, that will be embarrassing… as well as implying that there’s been an interesting journey since the early 2000s…)

    Update, February 1st 2014 – well, well, well: here’s some news. See below…

    • rudy simone February 1, 2014 at 7:02 pm #

      i remember your review now…it was lovely and yes, it’s me…see below for links 🙂

  2. rudy simone February 1, 2014 at 6:42 pm #

    hi guys – it’s me, rudy. I found this today googling my name..yes, it is the same rudy that is the award-winning author of six books, which have won 4 awards and so far, are translated into 7 languages. I did disappear and studied music all the while writing. i loved your review and found it very apt and insightful. I have recently released a somewhat more coherent ‘official’ debut album, which you can find on rudysimone.net. It is called gothic blues and is available at all the usual outlets. i have another coming out in 2014 called burn the witch. all the best, rudy simone

    • Dann Chinn February 2, 2014 at 12:05 am #

      Hi Rudy,

      Nice to hear from you again after so long – and I’m glad to hear that you went on to do so well. I’m glad that you enjoyed the review (again) and have updated all of the weblinks for the curious.

      cheers,

      Dann

  3. Dann Chinn February 2, 2014 at 10:27 pm #

    For those who might be interested – I’ve further updated the review itself, inserting part of another old review for the EP track ‘Kill The Cult Of Cool’ (which was re-released as a standalone single). I’ll shortly be uploading another Rudy Simone archive review (for her album ‘To Put The Sun Back In The Sky’, which followed ‘Personal Cloud’ back in 2000.)

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