Bat For Lashes – The Haunted Man album review

In the world we live in today, it’s pretty naive to expect that things are going to stay pigeonholed forever. Things that could previously be easily sorted and distinguished — like cultures or genres or mediums — are increasingly becoming enmeshed in each other; the lines increasingly blurred as experimentation is the new regulation. For some, it’s a huge mess. For others, like Natasha Khan who operates under the stage name Bat For Lashes, back with her third album The Haunted Man, it just kinda works.

The best way I can think to describe The Haunted Man is to equate it to a big gift basket of creative goodies. Tribal beats (“All Your Gold”), classical piano (“Laura”), dubstep-esque clamors (“Lillies”) and even something akin to a Gregorian chant (“The Haunted Man”) can all be heard on the album. They are seamlessly paired with and overlaid onto Khan’s vocals which, despite being delicately haunting, still manages to give off the impression of strength and power. She takes on the role of a supernatural force and displays quite a range, hitting high notes in “Deep Sea Diver” that pierce the air like the most finely tuned woodwind instrument.

Media are mixed too as the album is an extremely visual experience. It moves slowly, suspending the listener in time and space, evoking images with every note. Khan’s background as a visual artist is immediately evident, and it is easy to believe her when she says that writing music takes a visual place in her mind. The Haunted Man is all about crossing boundaries and defying norms, and whether she is mixing and matching genres or forms, Khan manages to pull it off with ease.

And this is perhaps what is most impressive about the album. Despite sampling from such a broad range of cultures, genres and media, the album maintains an air of organicism that keeps it from sounding contrived. Described on Khan’s website as an autobiographical record that heavily influenced by the rediscovery of her roots, The Haunted Man stands, therefore, as a true testament to her talent and her vision—this is evidently not something that can be learned, which makes it all the more rare and admirable a feat.

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