[GARAGEBAND GODDESS] Like a Villain's Holland Andrews doesn't write songs. She creates constructs—great, big sonic constructs that crash through your expectations of what music is supposed to be. Though Andrews has long captivated Portland venues with her dense mix of hypnotic loops and unfettered screaming, her much-anticipated new record, Bast, is her first album with fully professional production. Fortunately, even in the sterile confines of the studio, she holds nothing back.
The title track, a desert dirge that builds out of dark, ambient noises, proves Andrews has the pipes to back up her vision. Her voice is soft and pure at first, but by the track's end, she's repeatedly nailing a distorted three-note melody at the top of her lungs. The album's not all fire and brimstone, though. "A Song About Romance" starts out like the most pleasant Philip Glass piece ever written, a gentle loop of clarinet and violins, as Andrews sings gently and plainly to a loved one: "Come into my room/Look at all my stuff/We can talk about things." Seven minutes later, however, the strings are squealing, and Andrews is at full force once more, half singing and half snarling.
Bast is a challenge to navigate, and at times, it can even be downright frightening. But by the time Andrews sings, "You're worth more than what you know" over the clanging chimes of "My Dog Ate It," it's clear the scary soundscapes aren't the point—the album is much more about raw, earth-shaking catharsis.
SEE IT: Like a Villain plays Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave., with Arrington de Dionyso's Songs of Psychic Fire, on Sunday, Aug. 10. 9 pm. $5. 21+.