Emika – Klavírní (Emika Records)

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Really only a few years into what promises to be a long, exciting recording and performing career, Emika, once knee-deep in the Bristol dubstep scene and now residing in Berlin, is proving to be something of a Bowie-esque shapeshifter, equal parts ice and heat, dark and light, greasepaint and wounded flesh. On Drei, she´s an avant-pop deconstructionist, the deadpan sister Kraftwerk never had (if they had invited a guest guitarist to tear off a couple of solos), a thin white duchess singing angular interrogations and confessionals in pastel light. To enhance your enjoyment of Drei, her eponymous label has just released a slab of remixes.

But I want to backtrack to something that captured my attention earlier in the year and hasn´t let go since, and I´ll begin by backing up even further. In 1985, Brian Eno released one of his best records ever – under his brother Roger´s name. Voices consists of eleven solo piano pieces composed and played by Roger Eno, with ever-so-delicate but oh-so-compelling electronic treatments, just the gentlest of brushstrokes, by Brian.

Laced up tight and draped loosely in every texture of black from head to toe, classically trained Emika has done something similar but without sibling support. Her Klavírní consists of sixteen pieces all called “Dilo” (which may mean “work” in Czech) and numbered, played on a Karl Müller piano (in Milton Keynes – from her childhood home?), an instrument with oodles of personality. Each is exquisite, chamber music for a rainy afternoon whiled away in the salon that would sound just as right on a soft, warm night spent on the patio with stiff drinks.

Like Eno before her, she discreetly treats her playing at judicious moments. A note curlicues off and ties itself into a bow. An X-ray passes down the restless leg of the piano and exposes its bones. The crepuscular, echoey fifteenth piece turns a corner of the lid into brown sugar and crumbles. Beautifully executed, touching and memorable as a love letter.

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About Author

Born and raised in Toronto, Stephen Fruitman has been living in northern Sweden lo these past thirty years. Writing and lecturing about art and culture as an historian of ideas since the early nineties, his articles have appeared in an number of international publications. He is also a contributing editor at Igloo Magazine.

1 Comment

  1. Good album and a brave move for someone trying to get a foothold in a scene that tends to have a bias against female artists.

    I love when electronic musicians release minimal acoustic material. It always gives me more respect and insight into their synthetic oeuvre.

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