London producer e.m.m.a has quietly built a catalogue of real richness and depth. Perhaps slim in number – a sole studio album, a few stand alone 12 inches – she’s managed to re-contextualise club tropes in a genuinely imaginative way, resulting in a quite singular, instantly recognisable voice.
Second album ‘Indigo Dream’ is another curiously solitary offering, with e.m.m.a constructing sub-zero technologies in a manner that parallels the unconscious mind, and the indefinable strangeness of the dream experience.
Out now on Local Action, it’s a long way from debut album ‘Blue Gardens’ yet it carries a familiarity to it; there’s an enchanting sense of world building, with e.m.m.a utilising electronics with a sense of narrative thrust. The nods towards club culture remain, but the palpable structure is perhaps a possible influence gleamed from her work soundtracking short filmed such as Liberty, and That Girl, Peugeot.
A dream-like journey across nine tracks, it opens with the thunder-drenched ‘Into Indigo’. Utilising the synth-led melodies that become a major factor in ‘Indigo Dream’, the track has an almost 8-Bit feel to those refrains, a sort of icy square wave feel reminiscent of some lost late 80s dystopian horror flick.
‘Echo’ has a Brutalist feel, the shattered snares exploding amid the interstellar sparsity of the ruptured bassline. ‘Gold’ feels continually on-edge, its use of texture never fully becoming realised, suggesting a kind of latent paranoia in the process.
It’s not all bad vibes, however. ‘Shell’ has a wistful sense of bliss amid its undulating electronics – it’s possible to imagine it as the fluttering of a heartbeat, while the neo-classical melodies that pirouette above it recall her own “medieval funky” explorations on Coyote drop ‘Mindmaze’.
‘Ryan Gosling In Space’ is a wonderful title, but beneath this it carries from of the most intriguing compositional sense on the record as a whole. ‘Ballad Of Janet’ is a fine closer, but perhaps the pick of the record is the colour-saturated ‘Wave’, which moves from that singular, almost lonesome synth melody to burst into something formidable, almost vast.
A fantasy record that thrives on world building, ‘Indigo Dream’ is a gorgeous listen, its use of space forever inviting you to fill in the blanks, to allow your own sub-conscious to intermingle with her Pointillist electronics. Succinct but endlessly suggestive, e.m.m.a seems to invite you to walk down endless corridors, the restrictive palette of ‘Indigo Dream’ simply amplifying the intoxicating strangeness of her work.
Words: Robin Murray
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