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Posted on February 6th, 2015 (3:00 pm) by Aaron Tremper

In a 2011 interview with Resident Advisor, British/Czech electronic artist Emika unknowingly prophesied the direction of her career when she compared her music to blueberries: “You look at them and they're dark and purple and mysterious, and then you eat them and they don't taste at all how they look." The 29-year old sound designer’s latest release, Klavírní, defies the expectations that surrounded the release of her eponymous debut for Ninja Tune Records. A continuation of 2013’s classical Klavírní EP, Emika’s LP returns to her roots as a student of classical composition with a 13-track set of nocturnes and sonatinas digressing from her self-professed techno and dubstep influences.

More in line with unexpected inspirations such as musique concrète innovator, Pierre Schaeffer, and Francois Bayle protege, Denis Smalley (Emika herself cites Czech composer, Leoš Janáček, as the collection’s primary muse), Klavírní features the glitchy sound manipulation that made her most popular single, “Drop The Other,” such an intriguing listen. 2015 is a subtler year for Emika, though. The album is a tracklist of vague compositions entitled “Dilo 4,” “Dilo 5,” and so forth, providing an obvious sequel to the EP’s cliffhanging clincher, “Dilo 3.” Despite the club-friendly cover art, reminiscent of a Keri Hilson single (“Energy” and “Get It Girl,” anyone?), Klavírní is a subdued, stripped repertoire of Emika originals.

The album doesn’t immediately plunge into Emika’s familiar techniques of delayed piano or envelope tweaks. Rather, Klavírní stalls on brief, haunting intros, such as the ambient backtrack of “Dilo 5.” Until the beautiful, consistent use of block chords on “Dilo 8,” the first four tracks rely solely on broken triads and arpeggios to support Emika's simple, minor-key melodies. "Dilo 8" proves to be Klavírní’s watershed track in which Emika finally commits to her recognizable sound-crafting. On “Dilo 9” she tampers with pitch wheels, filter envelopes, and delay modulation to create an arrhythmic and spacey piano study. The album’s longest track, “Dilo 14,” is a brooding, five-minute listen that recalls Carter Burwell and Alexandre Desplat’s more commercial film scores. Overwhelmingly dark, the album’s reverby closer, “Dilo 16,” offers the sole reprieve from the moody, solitudinous aura of Emika’s collection

While Klavírní offers a refreshing redirection in Emika’s solo-work, the LP neither solidifies her as a contemporary virtuoso nor warrants the score booklet packaged with the vinyl edition. Neither a chilling contemporary composer like Lutoslavski, nor an accomplished experimental classicist like Francesco Tristano, the strong point of Klavírní lies in Emika's use of the studio as a tool to shape a unique, yet simple, classical sound heightened by delayed keys and long attacks. Klavírní is an undeniably sweet snack. However, by the LP’s last seconds, the listener will be left rummaging through Emika’s bowl of berries for the tart, gut-wrenching experience she shies away from.

Track List:

  1. Dilo 4
  2. Dilo 5
  3. Dilo 6
  4. Dilo 7
  5. Dilo 8
  6. Dilo 9
  7. Dilo 10
  8. Dilo 11
  9. Dilo 12
  10. Dilo 13
  11. Dilo 14
  12. Dilo 15
  13. Dilo 16
Emika — Klavírní Review
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

53 / 100
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