When employed with enough creativity and a strong aesthetic perspective, there is nothing more evocative and emotionally affecting than the magic of singing. This artist demonstrates the limitless potential of the human voice, and in the process she takes the listener into a deep and intimate well of emotion.
Kira May is an artist with a rich and malleable voice that falls somewhere between the modern soul divas and the experimental vocalizations of Bjork. On the EP “HEALTH”, her tracks are built from simple bass-lines and looped vocals, which she uses to create everything from complicated poly-rhythms to surreal choirs. Hooks are propelled by breathy beats and lush, dark musical ambience. Melodies dance in the moonlight, luring you into a haunted serenity. This is dark, experimental, mysterious pop, created by sheer will and the power of human lungs. The musical foreground provided almost entirely by looped vocals, stretched and distorted through time and space. Minimal instrumentation allows the vocal tricks to assume bigger impact. Breathing takes the place of snare drums, and the choir of the self assumes the place of the backing band. The odd keyboard makes an appearance, like an understated cameo role in a film noir. The bass is rich and thick, re-contextualizing the thump of hip-hop and dub music.
Lead track “Cut Off Your Shadow” is sort of a post-modern reconstruction of a funky R&B jam, with a wonderful hocketing vocal that overlaps itself. The song is cyclical, an ouroboros made of hip-hop bass and abstracted beat-boxing. The vocals rise and merge with each other, slowly enveloping the song like molten rock from a long-dead mountain.
“Never Broke A Bone” begins with a simple breathing pattern which gives way to a lush bed of closely voiced chords. The melody sways serenely before a deep bass tone pulses into the foreground. “Baby I’m bleeding, I’m falling apart” she sings, giving voice to feelings of personal disintegration. The song is a hymn for the dispossessed.
“Wolves” introduces a singsong melody wrapped in an otherworldly, throaty purr. A pulsing bass provides a deep hole for the song to tumble down into. A keyboard ostinato phrase cycles between spacey guitar noises. A gritty vocal grabs the listener by the back of the neck. And then blurred glossolalia fills the air with wordless ache, before the digital distortion comes over, rising from the blackness with the massive momentum of a rogue wave.
“Ghosts” is upbeat and hypnotic. Starting with scraped strings and some interstellar noise, chiming guitars eventually give way to staccato digital funk. Swirling background moans rise and fall. Ping-pong arpeggios build the tension as ambient loops churn the melody into a poignant pop arrangement.
“Visions” brings the EP to a close with a careening pop song with a slow-burning chord progression. Auto-tuned vocals provide a synth-like backdrop for the raw lead vocal, which wraps itself around the beautiful melody in a loving embrace. The song lurches into a higher gear with the addition of more drums and some gorgeous hanging chords from a guitar. The voice crescendos and then suspends itself in the air like a mirage, before disappearing back into the opaque haze of the moonlight.
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