Always moving forward creatively, Derby based musician emzae adds a new single to her accomplished catalogue.
I have been listening back to many of her highlights (especially the textural beauty of ‘Another Lesson Learnt’ and the explosive tension of ‘As This Day Fades to Another (Rezzonator + Many Elephants Remix)’ ). The sublime 80s electrofunk confection of ‘Thrive’ burst out from lockdown last July and it is still sounding full of hooks and energy.
Now ‘Strip Lights’ places her narration in a gathering where perhaps she just doesn’t want to be, a metaphor for the confusion and unpredictability of modern social interaction; ‘…sit in the bar and listen, I just blur my vision, till the sparkles are just coloured dots…’ and ‘….I don’t want to be in this reality…‘. The lyric may tend towards the sombre but this is tempered by a moderate upbeat pace and the depth of production at which emzae excels.
From the welcoming introduction onward the layers of sound are complex and crafted, always framing the vocal to the right level. There is a recurring countermelody line, a bold flowering of synthesiser for the chorus and a bass groove that dances around underneath it all. It is another rewarding fusion of music, words and atmosphere, helped along by this performer’s unique vision for her work.
“…I definitely feel colour schemes when I’m listening to music, especially when I’m thinking of how artwork and visuals are going to look. I think of Strip Lights as green and orange…”
A welcome new release from Midlands based singer/songwriter/instrumentalist emzae.
She is a performer who never repeats herself and continues to push at the creative edges of electronic pop. She always has one eye on contemporary musical textures and lyrical themes, realising that the strongest statements come out of real life experiences.
From the pensive insights of ‘Another Lesson Learnt’ to the taut musical flexings of ‘As This Day Fades to Another’ and the most recent concise pop bite of ‘Waste Our Time’ her recent succession of singles maintain a high standard of content, brought to sparkling life by her self-production skills and attention to detail.
The words on this new track reflects the time when emzae realised the importance of being yourself, instead of endless circling to fit in with peers and the social difficulties that can arise. Also that maybe sometimes it is best to just have a dance and not worry too much.
Certainly this is a track to move to; it draws heavily on some retro-classic influences; from the minimalist electro grooves of the first Madonna album and the gloriously meandering funky keyboard bass that recalls some of Stevie Wonder’s early experimentation with deep and punchy synthesiser lines way back in the early seventies.
Add lots of immaculately timed clicks and beats, a winning vocal embellished with spoken voice and distant responses and a killer chorus line ‘…this is what it feels like to be free…’. Wrap this in a smooth sonic veneer and weave into a perfect song structure and you have her sharpest three minutes so far.
The striking Love Hearts sweets artwork heralds a new single from Derby-based musician/performer/producer Emzae, a follow up to the contrasting ‘As This Day Fades To Another’ and ‘Another Lesson Learnt’ from last year.
Like all of her recorded work this new track is immaculately constructed, with the combination of lyric and music beguiling and inviting the listener in. Reflecting the sentiment of the title, Emzae’s vocal kicks in at the one second mark and then it is all action for the brief duration of the track as it packs in verses, spoken word, bridges and a double chorus ‘….if we get into it you have to be sure, don’t wanna be restless no more….’ and of course ‘…we don’t wanna waste our time…’.
The phrases roll over each other as the voices take on different characteristics; the brilliance of this song is that all of this meshes together so effectively, expressing the fun and urgency of a possible relationship.
This lyrical dance takes place over some sharp and sparse electronic beats, percussion interruptions and possibly an acoustic piano in there too, all adding up to a sparkling two minutes.
Emzae‘s previous release ‘Another Lesson Learnt’ was an introspective and hypnotic opus, driven by an electronica pulse and unrelenting percussive beat, winningly combining with a sensuous vocal and rich melody to complete the song. Like all of her work it was immaculately constructed and sculpted to maximum effect.
Now there is a new single from the Derby-based electronic composer/singer/instrumentalist and for this track she has thrown off the shackles to deliver a tight mid-tempo anthem with a perfectly timed dance groove. Emzae has complete control over her recorded output and each element is in place; a reliable root bass note, a dissonant fuzzy keyboard masquerading as a guitar and a chorus that shoots off in a different direction altogether, when some echoing background vocals join the party.
The lyric carries a pensive message; the narrator of the song is passing through crowds leaving work and contemplating their existence and consciousness – do we all share the same problems, dilemmas and perceptions? And taking this through to the conclusion in Emzae’s own words describing the song ‘…do any of us truly give ourselves the time to live in the moment? do we sit and enjoy who we are, become content in our imperfection and find enjoyment in the journey…?’
Whatever the potential truths of some of these thoughts this music is a powerful burst of energy to fully enjoy, savour and of course dance to…
Emzae is a singer and electronic musician who has been recording and performing her own songs since 2014. After various demos her debut long-player ‘Double Life’ was an ambitious concept album about a fictional pop singer. It showed her versatility and range; from the frenetic 80s synthtastic pace of ‘Alter Ego’ and ‘We Hate You’ to the leisurely atmosphere of ‘Lounge’ and compact pop template of ‘Star Sign’.
Impressive indeed, then follow-up singles opened up new landscapes – starting with the much streamed ‘Lucid Dreaming’ (a dream during which the subject is aware that they are dreaming) which was a simple structure with a seemingly infinite number of textures and colours to frame Emzae’s entrancing vocals. Four experimental remixes added to the intrigue.
Recently ‘Glory’ started with an electric piano introduction then added echoing semi-ambient keyboards and bass lines. As the track built up with percussion and strange slowed-down vocal interventions weaving with a catchy hookline it was a darkly satisfying composition.
So now we have a new single to accompany some live dates in the UK. ‘Another Lesson Learnt’ is an atmospheric, assured track; throughout an electronic drumbeat drives the narrative with the words addressing the idea that society pressures all to find love in order to be secure and complete and how that can lead to wrong choices. ‘…I want to belong, just like anyone….in our quest for unity we get ourselves burnt….’, like many of her lyrics, the heartfelt emotion comes through in her haunting vocals. The instrumentation is complex and confident, the messages strongly expressed. Finally that pulsing beat stops, leaving just the multi-tracked voices to drift off into the ether…..