Johanna & The Dusty Floor - Northern Lights

Aussie-born, Brooklyn-based Johanna Cranitch goes by the moniker Johanna and the Dusty Floor for her enigmatic musical persona, a chameleon-like work in progress that taps into the standard-bearers of progressive fantasmic alt-pop female expression -- most notably Kate Bush with a smidgen of Bjork and Imogen Heap  -- and the newer crop of symphonic synth-esses like Bat for Lashes' Natasha Khan. Johanna describes herself as something of a nomad and having lived in London and Los Angeles after her Down Under upbringing she seems completely comfortable in changing her creative musical spots as well. Her November '10 EP The Forest provides a promising, lushly produced and glittering glimpse into what we have in store when her full-length debut Northern Lights drops May 24..

Cranitch begins with piano-based compositions that favor sweeping melodies and her dreamscape vocals -- celestially graceful and sublime -- and then, adding strings, an electronic kit bag of instrumental backing and densely layered harmonies, builds the tracks into grandly cinematic but surprisingly agile productions. The first undeniable ear-grabber is "Forest of Sorrows", a gently rhythmic stunner that instinctively knows exactly which melodic turn to take. Cranitch's multi-tracked counterpoint vocals reach the stratosphere with ease, as they do on the euphoric "This City", a song that seems tailored for some monumental stage surrounded by elaborate sets, lighting, chorus and orchestra. This is artful, imaginative music that never seems stodgy, overly dramatic or weighed down by its own big ideas. Cranitch describes Northern Lights as "a nod to my fantasy"...we'll just say that based on The Forest and some new songs ("Heavy Heart" in particular) we're expecting something fantastic.

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Johanna & The Dusty Floor - "Forest of Sorrows" (from The Forest EP and Northern Lights album)

Johanna & The Dusty Floor - "This City" (from The Forest EP)