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Time to Send out a Scouting Party



    Emma Louise Niblett may have borrowed her stage name from Scout Finch in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, but childlike and innocent she is not.

    Niblett, whose visceral live shows have hypnotized audiences around the world, is known for writing songs that leave listeners feeling both rewarded and a little shaken. Her sound exists somewhere between the likes of Cat Power and PJ Harvey, though unlike their guitar-based music, the centerpiece of Niblett's work is a thunderous drum.

    Her latest record,The Calcination of Scout Niblett, was engineered by Steve Albini, an indie-rock pioneer whose production credits include In Utero by Nirvana and Surfer Rosa by the Pixies. Albini maintains a near-religious dedication to capturing a sound (as opposed to manipulating it, the modus operandi of most producers), which is an approach that Niblett appreciates. Albini isn't known for his softer side, either, so it should come as no surprise that Calcination is an ass kicker. For those without a dictionary in hand, calcination is the process of separating volatile matter from a metal through heating or burning.

    On Calcination, Niblett's dislodged volatile matter seems to be what made it onto the tape. Despite the minimalist subtlety of songs like the album's opener "Just Do It," one quickly gets the sense that something sinister and larger is lurking in the shadows. Calcination is just one lit corner in Niblett's pitch-black psyche, and each of the album's songs draws the listener closer to the void.

    Niblett plays Bar Pink Sunday in what promises to be an intimate affair. The show starts at 10 p.m.

    T. Loper is a writer for the San Diego music blog Owl and Bear.