Paper Dollhouse is the spooky pseudonym for the music of Rayographs singer-songwriter Astrud Steehouder, who self-recorded, produced and released her debut album, A Box Painted Black earlier this year. It’s a collection of music that perhaps lacks the spit-n-polish of a genuine studio affair, given it was recorded entirely in her London home, between kitchen and garden depending on the weather. And it may be odd to reflect, then, that it is exactly what it lacks that adds so much substance to the album.
The imagination of Astrud is a bountiful place of ambient watercolour stereo, a place of concise folk and incidental life all playing a part in her orchestra. Trains pass by, water runs through pipes and doors slam to punctuate her silky vocals that slide frictionless, hauntingly hanging and caped in minimal gothic shadows.
Some of the rooms within this Paper Dollhouse are utterly immersive, and go beyond simply being music – they are audio artism. Whereas ‘Daisies’ and ‘Golden Ships’ are reflective minimum acoustic songs in the vein of Laura Marling, ‘Emeralds’ and ‘Space 2’ are gentle cascades of the soul, fragments of story that wouldn’t be lost within any Yonderboi track listing. As with ‘Silence 4’ – sheer phantasmagorical bliss. The atmosphere of personality within this debut is breath-taking.
Most tracks are available on Soundcloud and Paper Dollhouse is as yet unsigned – this fallacy will surely be rectified soon, someone with the capability for such spectrum of sound should not go unheard.