After months and months of struggling with practical problems, she, her lover Olivier, Jonas and David got the physical album ready just in time for the release show in Tilburg, which was planned today. Then Covid19 came. "We try to make the best of the situation," Michelle tells me. "In one way or another, all of this bad luck perfectly fits with the album."
Theme of 'Strangers' is feeling like a stranger in this world. Both Olivier and Michelle are strangers to the genres of this album too, both being deeply rooted in the extreme metal scene. In the intro you can hear that transformation, with dreamy post-rock-ish guitars blending into electronics, a blend that will remain throughout the album. Already at this point, we can hear the broad spectrum of Michelle's vocals. To quote myself (is that allowed?): "She's got it all in her Swiss army knife: haunting whispers, angry cries, howls of despair, imploring & demonic chants, but of course also that unmistakably heart-piercing, versatile alto that we know from Bathsheba's earlier work." No grunts or screams on 'Strangers' though, but keep a look on your heart because it shall be pierced.
Musically, it's quite hard for me to put 'Strangers' in a genre box. There's dreamy guitarscapes, sound effects, noises, drums and other percussion, but some of the songs are pure 80's new wave, very danceable. Shoegaze, dreampop perhaps? "Pleasing ghosts with music," the band calls it ghostpop. There's warmth and coldness, melancholy and hope, blood and mercury - "something from space and something from earth." Yes, I agree. It feels organic and spacey at the same time.
Let's try comparable bands. Dead Can Dance, Cocteau Twins. Dare I say Pink Floyd? Yes I dare. The sound quality is superb, the songwriting is ingenious, there's enough variation. With every listen I become more and more enthusiastic. I really can't believe this is a debut... I hope we can see Of Blood and Mercury live one day!
This album contains strange music for strange people in strange times.