For You Only is quite hard to pin down. Since Colin asked me to write about this, I’ve been listening to it in various different contexts – home with the cat, on a solitary late night train journey, on my iPod while navigating the noisy city and now again in bed in front of the intimidating blank page. What first strikes you about Isa Gordon’s album is the way in which it feels both intimate yet expensive while constantly shifting between styles in genres in a restless act of sonic rebellion that defies categorization. It has a delightfully elusive quality, slowly revealing different aspects with each listen. It feels like looking at a gemstone against a sunbeam or watching the motion of light in water.
While predominantly abstract and instrumental, her compositions have a particularly song-like structure; it sounds drift in and out of focus, building miniature narratives. Gordon says she’s been working on the album through the lockdown of winter 2020, which explains the somewhat diaristic feel to the music. Opener ‘’Second Love” playfully introduces us into her universe, where classical instruments and woozy synths find new ways to coexist.
The tone gets slightly darker with “Joanna Picollo”, a gorgeous piano meditation that is both somber and surprisingly breezy. The melancholy tone continues on ‘’Isolee with Sarah”, a short track that reads like a take on chamber music through the lens of folk songwriting and electronic music. Things get particularly strange with “Blue Fire”, where disembodied, chopped-up vocals and stringent, dissonant beats make for a dizzying concoction at the borders of IDM and dubstep. The title track follows an exuberant free jazz percussion which is slowly accompanied by glittering sense and luminous ambiences.
What Gordon manages flawlessly is inhabit the space between light and shadow, alternating noisy accumulations at the brink of overflow with elegant sparseness. Her Puckish dance between jazz, dubstep, IDM, contemporary composition and everything in between, coupled with a certain airy quality she imbues her tracks with, make this a stellar debut from an artist I am now excited to hear more from.