Essential New Music: Elena Setién’s “Another Kind Of Revolution”

Generally, revolutions are decisive acts of will, but not the one that Elena Setién has in mind. While the songs on the Basque songwriter’s Thrill Jockey debut are disinclined to give up their secrets on first encounter, you don’t have to dig for long to turn up evidence of surrender. Sometimes they surrender to another person, sometimes to mortality, sometimes to nature, but there’s a lot of gentle letting go.

Ironically, Setién exercised a lot of control in making Another Kind Of Revolution. Aside from the electric guitars of Andreas Fugelbæk and Steve Gunn, she’s the principal performer, deftly framing her multi-tracked voice with keyboards, violin and drums. A battery of effects transform her voice, and with it the listener’s point of view; compression takes you into a narrator’s head, then a sudden wash of reverb places you outside looking in. This is one revolution that’s defined by small details.

—Bill Meyer