Sound Colour Vibration Reviews Emika – Dva

shockleewebpic_soundcolourvibrationreviewEmika’s sophomore album Dva continues to heat up the press and challenge the electronic music landscape. Check out this appetizing review of the album by Erik Otis at the wonderful music blog Sound Colour Vibration. These guys seriously love their music.

Ninja Tune’s Emika has returned this year with her sophomore full length Dva and the sonic environment and lyrical presentation is a departure from her first record. Emerging out of the deep state of tones found on her debut album, Dva is a remarkable ride into vocal heavy electronica and classical influences where enlarged synth lines weave around natural piano, minimal rhythms and multiple vocal layering. Every track has a crawling and gradual speed to the whole, realizing a more spacious sense of melody and rhythm. The variation of synth patches and the different tones found in all of these small pockets defines a lot of the soul to the music, crashing against roaring bass runs and Emika’s stylistically placed vocal lines. The stringed classical influences also comprise a lot of emotional weight, appearing in many tracks spread through out the album. The tempo’s are kept to a slow pace but the elegance and spacious nature of the rhythms are a really fitting counter part to these slow burning grooves. With a more confident and bright sound achieved on Dva, a sentiment of darkened rooms and bright bursts of rays from window drapes being pulled to the sides comes to mind. The music leans heavily towards pop, pulled off with a superb sense of grace, abstraction and creativity.

The fifteen tracks that make up Dva are all bridged together in a natural and seamless method. On many listening experiences through the entire album, the acknowledgement of tracks changing happens only a handful of times. Michaela Šrůmová and a large stringed orchestra opens the album with a gracing touch to the past. It lasts less then two minutes but the emotional weight is a remarkable gift that opens up the synth and lyric heavy production “Young Minds.” The subtle backwards vocal patches merge into the large synth line to beautiful affect. The subtle touches are the components that really make this song a special treat, one of the most astonishing coming at 1:50 with the small bass bursts that rattle the speakers before the main theme is introduced again. The remainder of the track is set to instrumental mode and displays her ability to explore every single idea within the framework of notes and sounds. The pulsing bass acts as a drone and anchor while minimal drums merge into this field of tones. It’s a very different approach to rhythm tracking, especially with this much energy at the core. The powerful yet sultry persona of Emika comes out loud and clear with this European club anthem. The following three tracks “She Beats,” “Filters,” and “After The Fall” display Emika’s open ended emergence of pop and electronica, where groove, deep poetic lyrics and minimal sonic layering find the heart and soul of the creation. Synthetic and laced with a feeling of R&B, they are all a club driven sound from Emika that connects a plethora of her influences. The album takes flight in later stages but these tracks establish her ability to put a listener on a dance floor hundreds, if not thousands of miles away from where they live.

“Sing To Me” has a hypnotic low end that has really burned itself into my psyche and has remained one of my favorite pieces of the album. Hearing the track in a high fidelity system is a mind blowing experience, especially with how pronounced the piano lines are and the level of transient bass that centers inside of the low end. The synth lines that come forth in the break down section are some of the most soothing sounds on the album and submerge themselves back inside of the mix once everything reprises. It’s incredible to hear all of these layers interacting around one another. Emika’s vocal performance on this track is just as hypnotic as the production, hitting odd phrases where she jumps and twists her words in the most unusual but natural of ways. It’s beautiful to hear a tone of voice that is as sleek and powerful as hers inserted into the idiom of electronic music. “Dem Worlds” is another track that proved to be a very memorable experience on first contact. The atmosphere of stringed instrumentation begins the song, playing into an entirely natural grid of sound. Emika places delicate and soft vocal layering over the classical body of work. It’s a refreshing path of sound for her vocal abilities and phrasing style, opening up an entirely new identity in her canon of works. The dynamics shift from climaxes to resting states, working in the true fashion of pre-20th century composition approach. The entire piece is devoid of any synthetic treatment, proving that both of these spectrum’s of sound are perfect inside of the same body of work.

“Primary Colours” is the first song on Dva that bridges both classical and electronic worlds in a balanced form. The bouncy rhythms are the perfect launching pad for Emika’s sense of style vocally. Stringed instrumentation is utilized but in a much more processed and sampled format. It works inside of the construction of the beat, instead of shadowing the music with its tonal depth that can occur from the dominating nature of multiple stringed instruments recorded together. The mixing of this song is reflective of the entire album and how much attention was given to placing the size and range of strings inside of this electronic driven piece. The transition out of “Primary Colours” into “Sleep With My Enemies” goes from brightly lit to gloomy. The drum tracking and piano placement is very integral on “Sleep With My Enemies,” creating an endless amount of space for the deepest of bass tones to run snake like patterns in the lowest areas. It’s a subtle affect that is emphasized with great deal on a high fidelity system. The ending section features piano and a Goliath style of bass synth to surreal affect.

“Wicked Game” has one of the most peaceful piano lines I have ever heard from Emika and serves as a remarkable break of new energy for the album. The clouds open up and the album is centered into a brightly lit scenery of beauty again. The vocal layering is drenched in delay and is one of the most abstract states of vocal layering on the album. The drums ride at the very back of the mix, supplying that endless amount of tone in the most subtle of ways. This is the most sublime and blissful piece of the album and really shows how much range Emika has creatively. Nearing the remaining side of the album, the sonic fragmentation of genre types and modes multiples at this interval. Pop electronica of “Fight For Your Love,” the spiritually inflected dance groove of “Mouth to Mouth,” and the Missy Elliott and Timbaland influence of “Searching,” these three tracks alone move through a cyclone of music types. The ending piece “Criminal Gift” showcases Emika in a stripped down form with electric keys and her vocals and only builds in texture for brief moments. It’s a very beautiful ending message that departs from the album in unique form.

Dva is an album full of the most wondrous terrain but the lens is found in very subtle and hidden doorways. The surface of the album connects with a large body of electronic types but the underside sources itself from the same sense of experimentation and sultry beauty that glued her first album together. Emika has made a great case for her status as an artist of artistic longevity with the sophomore LP Dva.

Emika – Dva, is out now on 2LP / CD / Download at iTunes / Amazon / Ninja Shop or your local music shop.

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