‘Ancestors Watching’ gives an early sense of the contemplative vision shared by Purple Pilgrims’ Valentine and Clementine Nixon. The New Zealand sisters enjoy a waltzing call and response during the song, building unexpected tension that sets the scene for their second album. Coming as it does after a glacial opener, ‘How Long Is Too Long’, it also underlines Perfumed Earth’s loose form, with slurred guitar lines that make surroundings feel liquid.
Elevated by a disarming chorus, ‘Sensing Me’ is one of the record’s standout moments, letting the duo’s soaring voices capture a mood of nervy euphoria. ‘Two Worlds Apart’ then brings more potency to proceedings as Valentine Nixon sings “You keep my mind so ill at ease” with growing purpose.
The gritty edge that develops on the track helps balance the album, providing a tonic to the roaming saxophone and general spaciousness of songs like ‘Delphiniums in Harmony/Two Worlds Away’. Experimental guitarist Roy Montgomery later unearths a layer of prickliness on the intriguing ‘Ruinous Splendour’.
Purple Pilgrims tend to avoid outbursts in favour of subtlety, even if this means some songs threaten to pass by unnoticed. Perfumed Earth is therefore often hypnotic, marked by moments of nuance that reward a close listen.