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Hour of the Trace

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Album Review

After two albums, Jessica Bailiff's recording collaborations with Low's Alan Sparhawk are beginning to look like an inspired pairing — Even in Silence, Bailiff's debut, combined a wispy, ethereal ambience with Sparhawk's rumbling warmth and intimacy, and Hour of the Trace expands this sound into even more gorgeous territory. The sonic swirls and wan vocals of Even in Silence still make up the bulk of its successor, but Bailiff also takes small steps in other directions, laying out a few Low-style dirges, constructing songs from pulses of organs and dirty guitars, and generally exploring her idiosyncratic territory in a more focused manner — the results are simply gorgeous, containing the delicate appeal of the Cocteau Twins or Julee Cruise with the rich hums of slow-core outfits like Low or the American Analog Set.


Born: Toledo, OH

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Toledo, OH's Jessica Bailiff began recording in 1995 and sent a demo to Kranky Records at the suggestion of Low's Alan Sparhawk. In 1998, Bailiff's excellent debut appeared on the racks, bearing the Kranky logo. The largely slow-tempo material of Even in Silence, full of blurry effects and buried vocals, earned positive shoegaze and slowcore comparisons. Hour of the Trace followed a year later, which wasn't too far removed from the sound of her debut. A dark self-titled LP arrived in 2002, gaining...
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Hour of the Trace, Jessica Bailiff
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