DIY songwriter Leah Kardos crosses the boundaries here between ambient,
classical and folktronica, citing wide-ranging influences from electronic
acts Bjork and Amon Tobin to minimalist/soundtrack specialists Cage,
Glass, and Riley.
Influences can sometimes be subtle, but Kardos's are more on the surface,
using her inspirations as a platform for Feather Hammer's finely balanced
collection of avant garde acoustic/classical pieces, balanced by more
emotive piano-led tracks. There is no singing on the album.
The piano is a vital element of Kardos's sound, and she expresses
herself beautifully with the instrument, using it to project maudlin
communicative tones on the one hand, and light, sprinkling nostalgia-fuelled
ambient electronica on the other. Piano is often accompanied by spliced
vocal samples and/or minimal electronics, and it's easy to become
more attracted to those tracks as I find the more avant-garde side
of Kardos's work is sometimes a bit juddering and hard to place.
Having said that, there is a temptation to want everything to sound
melodic, when, within the context of the entire album, Kardos's more
darker, stilted offerings do have the positive effect of breaking
up the mood of the album, however uncomfortably.
When Kardos plays piano more expressively, Feather Hammer springs
into life, particularly on Katerina, when accompanied by the gentle
strains of acoustic guitar, and the excellent, spliced-up electronica
of Repeater. Meanwhile, the shifting, nervous Concentrate, You uses
piano in a different way, elongated the effect of struck notes to
provide drone-like ambiences with phased percussive effects adding
a dreamlike, yet nightmarish quality.
Apology is another delightful piece, with chattering piano providing
an underbelly for higher placed notes signifying a multitide of emotions,
from hope to despair, later accompanied by interweaving vocal samples
that add a deeply atmospheric, yet personal touch.
Feather Hammer is a quality release by Kardos, exploring a wide range
of emotions through her instrument of choice, and complementing it
very well with the addition of acoustics, percussion and sampling.
But most of all, Kardos makes a wonderful job of bringing displaced
thoughts back to life through her music - whether delicate or challenging,
she does not shy away, but confronts, thus ensuring her music communicates
with the listener on an emotive level.