Imogen Heap

Imogen Heap
Imogen Heap

With her tall, thin frame and at one time, sporting bright red hair, British singer-songwriter Imogen Heap seemed to represent the physical embodiment of the intensity found in her music – striking, bold and unique.

A talented pianist, Heap spent much of her schooling studying classical music in her native England, ultimately leaning toward more experimental music as she grew older.

In 1997, Heap signed with Almo Records and saw the release of her debut album, I Megaphone, released the following year. Influenced by household names like Kate Bush and Eurythmics (Heap even recruited Dave Stewart of Eurythmics fame to produce), I Megaphone is a collection of intense electronic-infused pop, ranging from relentless aggression to the sweet and somber. Heavy use of programming and sound loops add force and effect and make much of the album possess a spacey, sometimes alien quality. But the main draw of the album is Heap’s remarkably distinguishable voice, which can growl and purr in seamless fluidity.

Both ‘Mutual’ and ‘Airplane’ were previously unreleased tracks, appearing on the singles for ‘Come Here Boy’ and ‘Shine’ repectively. The lyrics on ‘Mutual’ are bitingly humorous, if somewhat simplistic (ex: “If I were a dog / I would shit on you / If I was your happy / I’d make you sad.”), but the song is nevertheless memorable.

The effect-heavy ‘Airplane’ is on par with most of Heap’s catalogue and features her unique brand of alterna-pop, but was inexplicably left off of her debut. However, it does appear on the Japanese import for I Megaphone.

A true love song, ‘Come Here Boy’ was possibly the biggest pushed single from I Megaphone, and featured Heap’s talent at the piano. Featured here is a live version performed solely by the singer and taken from This Is Alice Music: Volume 3, a benefit compilation released annually from San Francisco radio station, Alice @ 97.3. This version provides a nice taste of Heap’s live presence.

Also featured here is ‘Sleep,’ the album’s end song and arguably, it’s most subtle. Light strings and a hypnotic piano provide a hazy and dreamy atmosphere, easily enveloping the listener into a trance.

I know that my face is only too familiar to your sleep
I can see it in your eyes and I can tell by your body heat

After tours and promotions for I Megaphone had ended, Heap made guest appearances on various artist projects including Urban Species, Mich Gerber and Jeff Beck before teaming up again with Guy Sigsworth (previously known for his work with Bjork and Madonna) to form the synth-pop outfit, Frou Frou.

Given Heap’s involvement in Frou Frou, one might expect a similar sound to Heap’s solo work, but a much smoother sound is to can be found on 2002’s Details. With Sigsworth writing and handling studio controls and Heap writing and singing, Frou Frou broadened their listening audience when they released tracks for the soundtracks to ‘Shrek 2’ and ‘Garden State.’

Currently, Heap is preparing to release her second solo record, Speak For Yourself, which is scheduled for release later in the year. One song from the album, ‘Goodnight And Go,’ can be heard on Music From The O.C.: Mix 4 and can also be digitally purchased via Heap’s official site.

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