Mother of Invention

Mazzy Star's Hope Sandoval warms up to a new project.

Jansch has been a legend among guitar players for nearly four decades. Based in Britain, he has been cited as an influence by people who aren't too shabby on the instrument themselves, such as Neil Young and Jimmy Page. His songs have even been covered by other guitar legends, including Nick Drake. Jansch's approach differs widely from that of Mazzy Star guitarist Roback. Instead of morphine-vampire-feedback slide guitar, he plays an acoustic style so ornate it borders on classical in places. The arrangements on Bavarian Fruit Breadare skeletal enough to allow his guitar to come out, strong but supple alongside Sandoval's vocals.

Sandoval considers O'Ciosoig to be her main partner in the Warm Inventions. Though the band's style is about as far removed as possible from the ultra-feedback noise-pop annihilation of My Bloody Valentine, Sandoval has said she doggedly sought him out for the project.

"Colm I met about four and a half years ago in London, and we became friends," Sandoval says. "We shared a lot of the same musical interests, and we just started writing together. I was traveling with a portable studio, and we just started to record some of our ideas."

Hope Sandoval makes Bavarian Fruit Bread rise.
Hope Sandoval makes Bavarian Fruit Bread rise.

Bavarian Fruit Bread abounds with subtleties that are not immediately apparent. The third song, "Butterfly Morning," starts off with little more than vocals and twirling, elaborate guitar work. The song is transcendent and hypnotic, with Sandoval's voice and Jansch's guitar so ingeniously dovetailed that you hardly notice when a keyboard line and a breathless harmonica enter amid Sandoval's lyrics of determined love: "Butterfly morning/And wildflower afternoons/Gonna get me there/If I have to climb all the mountains on the moon."

"Feeling of Gaze" has an odd but oddly engaging cello line repeated underneath Sandoval's vocals, along with a deep background piano that's almost impromptu, like someone sat down at a piano in a quiet house and started tapping out nearly random notes. It is easily one of the most intriguing songs on the disc, which opens with a nearly unidentifiable cover of the Jesus and Mary Chain's "Drop."

Though there was an open period in the '90s when odder, more eclectic musical ideas could find an audience, it's possible that today the subtleties of a musician like Sandoval might be drowned out by the white noise of the plastic pop princesses dominating the airwaves. But Sandoval believes that such performers tap audiences that are fleeting at best.

"I think people don't give young women enough credit, really," she says. "I think if you and I can agree what's going on with artists like that, like Britney Spears, I think so can young women. Maybe it's just sort of a phase, and they'll grow out of it. I think we all grow up with idols and things like that. Eventually, we laugh about it. I think it's one of those things that kids are into, like they were into Atari and whatever else -- Duran Duran, things like that. I think there'll always be things that kids get into that they grow out of when they start living real life."

And as far as those audiences who were so loud as to force Mazzy Star to stop playing, Sandoval says the band's reputation may have done some good in that area.

"David and I did some shows a year ago in Europe, and it was unbelievable," she says. "It was so quiet, we got nervous. It was too quiet."

When Hope Sandoval is singing, there's no such thing.

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