FKA Twigs – EP 2
Released: September 17, 2013
Producer: FKA Twigs
Genre: Electronic, Trip Hop, Avante-Garde, Experimental
01 How’s That
02 Papi Pacify
03 Water Me
London-based musician FKA Twigs is one of the most intriguing personalities I’ve ever discovered in music. I’ve seen her in interviews. She’s ambitious, calm, outgoing and let’s say all-in-all a bubbly personality. On her recently released EP 2 though she seems to be channeling a whole sort of different energy. This release, a second four-track EP, triggers a dual feeling of being buried in her suffering and a sense of relief that her music provides an outlet for it all. “I guess I’m stuck with me,” she sighs on “Water Me”. Her music is trip hop oriented and have been a matter of discussion throughout her short career as FKA Twigs. Maybe I’m so fond of her and her music because the whoe essence of her music is the closest thing I’ve heard that comes very close to the moment Tricky and Martina Topley-Bird gelled to wonderfully gloomy effect on 1995’s Maxinquaye, finding a perfect meeting point for weed-fuelled paranoia and all-consuming love. Yeezus collaborator Arca is on board as producer, neatly building a bridge toward his own Tricky worship on tracks like “2 Blunted” from his UNO album Stretch 2. The level of detail is immense, but never too fussy. There is no more room for space, like in EP 1. The EP’s largest and grandest moments will drown and bear down on you, barely leaving you any room to breathe.
What Twigs and Arca have done perfectly in this album is this: You can’t make music, especially UK trip hop related music, by just copying other acts like Massive Attack and Portishead. They’ve made a lot of separate elements that trip hop has in general work together with beats that were more commonly associated with tightly wound hip-hop tracks (filling the loopholes in the meantime). So on “How’s That” we get down-tuned slabs of noise and a sound that resembles a manic ping-pong ball layered under twigs’ emoting. “Water Me” is built around a playful vocal sample that recalls Laurie Anderson‘s “O Superman”. At times the most striking element is the oppressive bass that swells up, bearing such weight it resembles someone dragging a gigantic rock through the desert. But twigs is the star here, her voice rising and falling in unexpected places, full of unique color, sometimes pulling you in close even if the place she’s in doesn’t feel like somewhere you necessarily want to be.
Twigs is a master of shifts. She can choose to live either in the real or the unreal. Water Me” she’s coated in a thin layer of FX, adding another alien layer to a music that already sounds positively extra-terrestrial. Then she’s slowly sliding down the wall again in “Ultraviolet”, beginning the song with a clutch of highly pitched lines perforated by an icy quiver. But there’s always a sense of reticence, of not letting you get too near her malaise– a feeling emphasized when “Ultraviolet” slows down to total sludge at the midway point, becoming less trip-hop and more trudge-pop. When the song bursts into something resembling a sunny R&B chorus it starts to wilt under the weight of too many good ideas stirred into the same pot. The only thing maybe, I’m a bit abrasive about, might be the fact that this all might be explicitly ‘internet’ music. Escpecially on the album’s highpoint “Papi Pacify”. I don’t really know how this could be done live, but that can also be the good thing about it at the same time.
The hardest thing to imagine about this album is this: In interviews Twigs has admitted that she is a loner, which can clearly be seen in her music. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine how the collaboration with Arca even works, mainly because her music is so solitary. Twigs is only in her mid 20s, but EP2 is the sound of someone who has lived a lifetime in their own head, and is now letting it spill out publicly in its oddly open-yet-guarded way. There’s a sense of watching her grow in public, too. The progress since her first EP is strong– if “Breathe” from that release resembled Topley-Bird‘s work with Tricky a little too closely, here she’s starting to shed those tendencies, settling further into her own voice, finding her own way around rhythms. What her music does best is poise. It comes around and taps into your deepest emotions while you listen to her music and sinks in. Slowly staying there until it has a tight grip on you. When everything comes crashing down around you, you accept your fate and just go with it to see where it might lead.