With label head Ellen Allien's Dust and decidedly non-dance albums from We Love and Aerea Negrot, it seems like Berlin oddball techno outfit BPitch Control is starting to embrace a pop-friendly streak. The addition of Dillon to the roster seemed like a fairly standard one, especially considering the bumpy techno jam "Aiming for Destruction" on BPitch's Werkschau compilation, and so with the announcement of her debut album, it seemed like we were in store for another album of vocal-heavy, idiosyncratic techno-not-techno.
This Silence Kills goes along with that idea with its opener and title track, putting Dominique Dillon de Byington's distinctively warbly voice on top of a backing track with piano and scruffy electronics. But then with "Tip Tapping" we're given brass, french horns and flutes. Dillon quickly reveals herself not as a techno temptress but an ornate songstress more concerned with creating spare but hospitable backdrops for her plaintive vocals. Beats? What beats? It's a bit of a shock how little overtly "electronic" production there is on the album—there are touches here and there, some more perceptible than others, but This Silence Kills is a straight-up pop album.
Thankfully, Dillon is a pretty good songwriter. Her lyrics, while sometimes a tad too precious, are quirky and cutesy ("I want to be your lover / Wipe your lipstick across my mirror") when they aren't unnervingly dark. The melodies are outstanding, catchy and familiar without resorting to coyness, and they resonate gorgeously in the album's crystal clear soundstage. Her voice is an interesting mixture of the cracked and the childlike, a little rough around the edges but adorably eager: Think Regina Spektor crossed with Joanna Newsom with a little Kate Bush sprinkled on top.
Tracks like the jaunty "Thirteen Thirtyfive"—complete with an excitable Beat Happening-referencing coda—and "Your Flesh Against Mine" are elegant but intuitive compositions with thoughtful lyrics. She can pull off convincingly emotional (the breakup lament "Gumache") as well as playful (Morrissey-melodrama on "The Undying Need to Scream"), and her elvish vocals render lyrics like "Sometimes when I wish to kill / I count from one to six hundred kilometres" even creepier.
As strong as Dillon's songs are, the idea that there are some missed opportunities here can't help but nag at even its strongest moments. Beyond the opening track there's the untitled mid-album interlude that dots her piano with specks of artificial percussion and wordless gasps. Going one step further is the closer "Abrupt Clarity." Undoubtedly the album's strongest track, its bristling beats and synths prove how compatible Dillon's naive squawk really is over embellished soundscapes rather than just piano, leaving you with the sense that a whole album of techno-cum-electro-pop like "Clarity" could have been much stronger than a collection of offbeat baroque pop. Maybe it's just a taste thing, but what we're left with here anyway isn't so bad. It's just a little unusual...like Bpitch Control itself.
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Tracklist: Dillon - This Silence Kills 01. This Silence Kills
02. Tip Tapping
03. Thirteen Thirtyfive
04. Your Flesh Against Mine
05. You Are My Winter
06. The Undying Need To Scream
08. From One To Six Hundred Kilometers
09. Hey Beau
10. Texture Of My Blood
12. Abrupt Clarity
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