Nearly a year and a half in the making, ‘Opticks’ is a gently enchanting new record that – while again home-recorded - dramatically upgrades Silje’s sound and sees her making considerable advances on her debut, ‘Ames Room’, which was released in January 2008 to widespread critical acclaim.
While once again mostly home-recorded, ‘Opticks’ (the title references Isaac Newton’s 1704 book about the science of optics and the refraction of light) has a far richer, fuller sound than its predecessor and is the result of a more focused approach. Starting from scratch with an end goal rather than being an collection of existing pieces with additions and reworkings (as on ‘Ames Room’), it was made with different equipment and in different surroundings. Created between autumn 2008 and winter 2009, the album was mixed with Tarwater’s Bernd Jestram. More melodic and a little less experimental, it’s a fully coherent album and its beautiful combination of sweet hooks and lush, intricate textural detail ensure that it’s a place that listeners will want to return to. Silje’s beautiful, breathy vocals are projected further forward in the mix than previously, becoming less another texture than a central focus for the whole.
Orbiting around Silje’s unique vocals, tracks are constructed from a wide range of instruments and effects - guitars, drums, viola, bass, xylophone, electronics, keyboards, concertina, flute, trumpet, percussion and “basically anything i have lying around, adding random recordings of things, video clips, effects...” Initially utilising a computer to layer sound, Silje has increasingly tried to remove herself from the machine - reworking some of the material on a 4-track cassette recorder in an attempt to simplify things, but ultimately ending back with the computer exploding the material into "even more complicated stuff than before."