Spotlight: White Hinterland Beguiles With Kairos

Kairos contains the often used song, "Icarus"

By , Columnist

There are two elements about this current time of rock and roll which can't be ignored. The first can be construed as a bad thing: there is just way too much music to listen to. The human lifespan does not allow for too great an experience with music because of such infinite options. The second is a good thing, and from that immensity, is that in all of that music, there is excellence. When you begin to find that excellence, the ability to put together a collection of highly personal music becomes unmatched.

The music of White Hinterland is that of singer-songwriter, Casey Dienel. With her piano and a voice that emphasizes her works, Casey Dienel makes a compelling argument for your attention span. Casey Dienel resides in Oregon, although her youth was spent in Massachusetts, and her New England Conservatory of Music years in Boston.


Casey Dienel recorded a set of songs in Boston and soon had them issued through an arrangement with Hush Records. Those recordings were found on her first album called Wind-Up Canary (2006). After a move to Oregon, she felt a need to begin recording under the moniker, White Hinterland, releasing that band’s debut album, Phylactery Factory in 2008.

The album draws influence from the vocal styles of Joni Mitchell, incorporating a jazz sound into the songs. Joni Mitchell has been known to use jazz in many of her own recordings. “Dreaming of the Plum Trees” will eerily have you thinking Mitchell from the beginning of the song. But regardless of the easy comparison, all of Phylactery Factory is an amazing work that highlight the enormous talent of classically trained, Casey Dienel.

In 2010, White Hinterland released their second album, Kairos. That album finds Dienel in a different mode with a noticeable shift in style. It’s less jazz, and more the music of an artist finding her own way with which to beguile a growing audience. It begins with a stunner of a song, “Icarus” with an unforgettably haunting male-sung “ohohohohoOHOHohoh” running the length of the tune. The songs of Kairos are mournful, cautious, and more thought provoking than her previous sets (including the five-track EP, Luniculaire, also released in 2008). I fail to find a bad song on the album collection.

With the release of Kairos, we can easily tell that Casey Dienel is evolving as an artist. Kairos is a triumph of a work. While no other song on that album transcends the beauty of “Icarus” (heard in film and commercials), Kairos is nothing to ignore. The music does not overpower the remarkable vocals of the artist. Their expressive qualities make the songs a travel around the heart and soul of a woman.

I cannot recommend White Hinterland enough for those that could use a touch of vocal beauty, lyrical intensity, and experimental music in their lives.

White Hinterland - Icarus by erinaomi

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Matt Rowe began his life with an AM radio, listening to anything that was considered music. Since, he has labored intently to build a collection of music, paring it down, rebuilding, and refining as he sees fit. His decided goal is to keep up with new music by panning for the nuggets among literal mountains…

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