- “There’s something icy and inviting on this mellifluous, mischievous album by Caroline Polachek (Chairlift), like riding a gondola over the clouds. Proudly recorded without other hands, it captures the empty yearning then resolution of an unrequited crush on Backwards and Upwards, a hiplashing inertia-defeating number that will be in your head by the end of the hour. That cut lumbers along on a bassline and digital arrangement that sounds like Dave Sitek turning his hand to a forgotten Motels B-side. It sees Ramona Lisa lying on a hospital bed while nurses chatter above her “It burns but it cleans”. Purgery! Slowed-up Kraftwerkian stretches and ambient wiggles link with “cha cha chas” and bolder numbers Lady’s Got Gills, Dominic and Izzit True What They Tell Me carry a sense of distant intrigue” – HERALD SUN **** 4 stars
- “At times abstract, at others specific and concrete, the project’s textuality largely revolves around love (ex.Dominic) and nature. It is a collection of ‘Pastoral Electronic’ fonts which does never get monotone as Ramona Lisa’s sultry voice enlightens as it layers itself to the smooth, aleatory synths” – RTR FEATURE ALBUM
- “A magical, nature-filled bunch of ‘pastoral electronic music’, as she calls it. The first single should have been enough of an induction that this record would be great, but it’s greater than we expected. Hard to believe that something that sounds like Fellini feels, was made entirely on a laptop with no instruments or external mics” – OYSTER
- “Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek dons the exotic mystique of her Ramona Lisa alter ego for the release of her first solo album. Reportedly created on the road with just a laptop, Polachek has created a heavenly, dreamy album of fluid, organic electronica with symphonic aspirations. It’s against her pastel-coloured arrangements that Polachek drops her distinctive hazy out-of-focus vocals, which move from delicate melodies to multi-layered abstraction. Arcadia lets listeners daydream as they drift across Polachek’s luscious ambiences. Gaga might think she’s peddling art pop – this is undoubtedly the real deal” – THE MUSIC **** 4 stars
Arcadia, the magical debut album by Ramona Lisa, alter ego of Caroline Polachek (Chairlift) is out now on Mistletone Records / Inertia.
Over the past year, Caroline Polachek has been performing as Ramona Lisa in New York unannounced, incognito, with fully choreographed and costumed sets. Arcadia is Polachek’s first self-produced solo record. Completely composed in MIDI, it is a concept album of love songs that are nature allegories, and vice versa, which Polachek calls “Pastoral Electronic Music”.
The making of Arcadia was a year-long process that began and ended in an empty studio in Rome’s Villa Medici and while on tour with her band, Chairlift. The record was made entirely on a laptop without instruments or external microphones — all vocals were sung directly into the computer, making use of hotel closets, quiet airport gates, and spare dressing rooms.
Although the album was created on a laptop, the result is a lush and uncannily tangible world of warm textures, reminiscent of analog tape processes rather than a hard drive. Virtual oboes and organs interweave with synthetic insects and quivering sine waves, animated by Polachek’s vocal at its most delirious and intimate yet.
Ramona Lisa and the world of Arcadia have been more fully realized in vision through a pair of music videos and a handful of intimate live performances. On film, we see a solitary girl, lost in flirtation with the chaos of nature. Cicadas and alligators, with tough exteriors representing the masculine, stalk the fair-skinned maiden. On stage, the story is conveyed through movement. Polachek initially began performing solo but hadn’t managed to bring the visual element to its fullest. She’s now accompanied by a pair of backup singers, identical in dress with fringe wigs and facepaint. They wear sets of false eyes on cheeks and fingers, likening the masquerade to an evolutionary defense mechanism found in certain species of insects and fish—predator deflection. “It’s hypnotic,” she says. Polachek explains that together, the trio is akin to a musical chord: a harmonic set of three that the audience experiences simultaneously as one. The triad represents the full manifestation of Ramona Lisa’s spirit.