A Study in Her is more of a study in the experimentation of balancing the chilly feel of arctic electronic sounds along with the organic warmth of untainted vocals and non-computerized instrumentations, and for the most part, it works very well.
At times I wish there was less electronic beats, loops, and samplings, and more of Tamara Black's (Jenhitt) breathy, wispy vocals, but with each spin of Dialogic, the minimalist, low key style A Study In Her produces sounds better and better. Costas Nakassis' (Jenhitt, The Axis Set, Charlie Brown Gets a Valentine) soft spoken vocals, hushed and delicate, are a really nice element that matches well with Tamara's.
A beguiling mixture of subdued electronics, skittish snare taps, remote guitar picks, and sprinkled piano parts fill Dialogic (sometimes even mimicking the playfulness of Joan of Arc). Investigational music that's not indulgent, but does require patience, A Study In Her's wintry breathe cools and calms, especially on "Two-F," "Tropes On Television," and "Wrung Rough."
Dialogic is the ideal album for those restless, sleepless winter nights that extends well into the early morning.
by Ken Hawk
Electronic beats, loops and sampling alongside guitars, bass and drums make an ambient sound that's almost jungle or techno-danceable, but with a rock warmth. On tracks like "Manilla," this album seems to have a lot in common with Tortoise's Standards in that texture and layering are what make Dialogic. A Study in Her's vocals and non-electronic instrumentation keep it from sounding too cold. At times, however, the vocals are flat and dull and the lyrics can be uninspired "ap.1H". But this album strikes me as an experiment in combining electronic and instrumental music, and some tracks -- most -- work; some don't. A Study in Her are at their best when the vocals ground the music, controlling it like a kid does a kite: the string goes taught, it does some tricks, but if it were to simply fly out of control this would be jungle or techno rather than something new. And while they may not be the first musicians to take on the challenge of combining jungle and more traditional rock, they're surely one of the very few to succeed (at times beautifully). I'm definitely going to be listening to this album in the future and looking forward to hearing more from them. (Honest in Secret) -- MH
Geekamerica (Dec. 02)
A Study in Her play beautifully laid back electronic influenced indie rock similar to American Analog Set. It has that same dreamy quality to it that gives AAS and Broadcast the sense of style that makes them two of the best indie bands around. A Study in Her have nailed that same style down and taken it in their own direction. This is a great cd to chill out to. (CS)
Honest in Secret
IMPACT Press (June, July 02)
A Study in Her • Dialogic • Honest in Secret Records • Unique and dreamy electro-pop with attention deficit disorder. The music in Dialogic alternates between soothing and ethereal atmospheres, to erratic, hyperkinetic drumming. Costas Nakassis and Tamara Black share the microphone duties, in a style that sometimes reminded me of Seely. (AL)
Naptime, soul-soothing, basement electronica-pop. From the mind and body of Charlie Brown Gets a Valentine drummer Costas. Overall a departure from the typical Vinyl-A-Go Go aesthetic, but a departure well worth taking. Subtle hooks and harmonies, from males and females, poured over slowed-up and danceable drum machine beats.
Plug in Music
Mixing the rapid drum beats with A Study In Hers Costas Nakassis soft vocals, reminiscent of Cibo Matto, with other lead vocalist Justin Moyer, Dialogic is essentially, at its core, an album of vocals and percussion. Atmospheric and sometimes acoustic, A Study In Her rarely alter their style as they indulge in twelve songs rarely under five or six minutes long. Easing in slowly, 14 in 15 opens with, more or less, only drum machine beats before soft but indistinguishable, droning vocals are added. The more melodic Wrung Rough speeds up and slows down between verses and an interlude of carousel-like music. A Reduction uses more rapid beats and plinking piano on Nakassis part of the song while screaming but subdued male vocals follow before the song relies more on the electronics. Tropes on Television, with a less structured electronic rock sound, helps to add some variety to the album. The band explores a more minimalist side with the atmospheric Analytic of Finitude before turning more upbeat and actually getting your attention with Guide to Treatment and Prevention. Keeping it simple, Speech Generic is made up of piano, drum beats and vocals to create a jazzy feel. The Figure of Finitude returns to the somewhat droning style but relies too heavily on the same electronic rhythms that had made up the whole track. Tropes in Time and Addressing and Addressed are both soft, the prior spacey, the latter a bit of a garbled acoustic recording. The album closes, uneventfully, with The Thought of Finitude, made up of a mixture of sounds, like running water, and a short lived indie rock tune. With most tracks clocking in at over five minutes, the songs have too much dead time as most start slow and never build to anything. Similarly, the repetitive use of the drum machine and song structure tends to be unengaging. A Study In Her are writing melodic, atmospheric songs that just need to focus more. Dialogic is one of those albums where either it works for you or it does not. Grade: B-
Skratch Magazine (Dec 02)
DIALOGIC by super-unknown A Study in Her (I've never heard of them-have you?) is an album strictly for those who love experimental assertiveness. Trippy beats ("A Reduction"), weird synths ("Fourteen in Fifteen"), a myriad of clackety, ringy instruments and wavy tones ("Two-F"). The group sounds like a boy-girl duo that is trying very hard to be "artsy." The vocals seem overshadowed by the album's instrumentals-which isn't necessarily bad, but shows just where the umph of the CD lies. Overall, DIALOGIC is way too long and overly dense...though it might intrigue those on some kind of high.
- Darren Ratner
A Study In Her try for the moody, electronic experimental post-rock thing, (y'know, The Sea and Cake, Gastr Del Sol, Her Space Holiday, that sort of thing) and sometimes succeed. More often, unfortunately, they're brought down by inferior vocals and lazy songwriting. Opener "Fourteen in Fifteen" gets things off on the right foot, with a gauzy bed of treated guitars held taut by a complex, jittery drumbeat. "Wrung Rough" starts out well enough, with a very post-rockish guitar figure, but is quickly dragged down by Tamara Black's amateurish little-girl voice. It's a pleasant enough tune -- if you can get past Black's wispy, slightly off-key vocals for its entire eight minutes.
This is a common problem on Dialogic, as many songs here start out strong but overstay their welcome, dragging the same theme out for six, seven or eight minutes. You'll be about ready for each song to end at the three or four minute mark -- but you'll be only halfway through. ASIH sounds like the work of some mostly-talented people who simply need an editor (or producer) to tell them when to quit, and to tell them when to re-take the vocal track that didn't sound quite right. The music is interesting, and certainly shows promise, but the band has some unfortunate kinks that they'd do well to iron out before stepping into the studio (or into the bedroom with the 4-track, as the case may be) again. -- Jeremy Schneyer
"Dialogic" is a love affair between a boy and his computer. It is an amalgamated mix of jungle beats, indie guitars, and spacey electronica drawing on numerous colors of the spectral ray in this prism of sound. See American Analog Set, My Bloody Valentine, and The Roots for comparison. Add vocal comparisons to a subdued Billy Corgan on a great day.
As the album title suggests, A Study in Her consists mainly of a shared microphone between ex-Jenhitt frontman Costas Nakassis and frontwoman Tamara Black. Unlike Rainer Maria, though, their intellectual capacity highly surpasses the level of make-you-sick "I love you" songs. Actually, whatever lyrics are actually understandable, require the assistance of a dictionary, and a linguistics aficionado to comprehend. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. Enter "Tropes on Television," which seems just a little too plastic and forced to fit in with the other 11 tracks.
After a long gestation period of recording album upon album fit for release only to friends, "Dialogic" is the first full length release mastered and tailored for the general public. Reminiscent of a good book or movie, the songs required numerous drafts and revisions from their early stages. Now, like "Fight Club," the album reveals its secrets with time and patience. The more you listen, the more you learn.
Picture a kid in a music store playing on a keyboard. Ignore the atrocious dins extolled from the tiny speakers and imagine the wistful symphony of sound in that child's imagination. That is ASIH: an ethereal mix of harmonies and melodies too complex for most to produce in practice.
That picture is not too far off from the actual ASIH songwriting process. More often then not, the music is scripted by Costas. Then the actors are called in to try out to fit each part best. "Dialogic" is more like a musical play, taking shape in surround sound around your ears.
It is a love affair that extends beyond the limits of a boy and his computer. It is an obsession with music, intellectualism, and a deep and profound respect for all people invited to take part in the ASIH microcosm. It is a test, pushing the limits of traditional instrumentation juxtaposed against experimental electronica. If it makes a sound, it is fair game.
ASIH is a good red wine, or expensive cigar. It is an acquired taste, that expects a prerequisite knowledge of the mechanics of music. It is that same imaginative child, deconstructing the whole into little pieces and putting it all back together in the way that is best seen fit.
-Marcello De Feo