Villain, Carmen: Only Love From Now On LP

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US-born, Norwegian-Mexican artist and producer Carmen Villain's fourth album Only Love From Now On is the culmination of a build-up that began with a turn in sound evident on 2019's Both Lines Will Be Blue, Only Love From Now On presents Villain's aesthetic blossoming into something unexpected, benevolent in its composure and altogether luxuriant in its sensuality. If her themes are wide, philosophical, and occasionally abstract, the emotional tenor of Hillestad's music is clear and purposeful. Makes sense that her key musical touchstones are dub, ambient, and cosmic jazz – flexible vehicles for tranquil wonder.

Listening to Only Love From Now On is simultaneously comforting and alluringly strange. Partly it's the contributions of guests Arve Henriksen (trumpet, electronics) and Johanna Scheie Orellana (flutes). Partly it's the fluidity between instruments – such as clarinets – field recordings, the studio, jam, and careful composition. She calls the process a conversation with sound that occurs in her deliberate attempts to experiment with new methods, like granular synthesis, for her music-making.

Only Love From Now On is fueled by the sense of scale in feeling small in the face of things so large, the contemplation of how the biggest impact we can have is in the people close to us, the attempt to make sure that impact is a positive one, and the choice to try to focus on love instead of fear. Hillestad describes it as "wishing to maintain a sense of careful optimism for the future, while on the cusp of something unknown."

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