NOIA's musical makings have the markers of striking talent.
With everything that’s happened this year, it feels like 2014 was ages ago. But in the world of independent pop music, 2014’s biggest trend of deep, hypnotic music with high-pitched vocals continues to rule supreme. Albums like FKA Twigs’ LP1 and Kelela’s Hallucinogen EP taught producers how abrasive synths and highly-manipulated vocal samples could create an unparalleled sense of movement and texture that evokes experiences of sex, drugs, and existential confusion. The label debut EP from Spain’s Gisela Fulla-Silvestre, aka NOIA, focuses highly and unexpectedly on the latter of those subjects to the greatest effect.
“Nostalgia Del Futuro” was the first song we heard from the Barcelona native and still remains the album’s seminal anchor. Its warm textures and glitchy rhythms find a new space for Fulla-Silvestre’s voice to croon and gives it enough air to really breathe. Alternatively, the other three tracks on the album rely much more on a pulsing beat that's ready to up the ante on the dance floor. Habits finds very little moments to rest, constantly pushing as much sound as possible into its few pop songs. But in its rare siestas, great levels of introspection can be found. Ahead of the songs’ constructions and trend-savvy songwriting, the definitive characteristic of Habits is Fulla-Silvestre herself. Not only is she a dedicated musical craftswoman, she comes from a line of revolutionary thinking in a country wrought with revolutionary praxis. Her lyrics reference literature and cultural theory of Cavafy, Olaf Stapledon, and Byung Chul Han alongside their catchy refrains. The lushness of literary and political reference couples well with the production, bringing a definitively baroque element into the contemporary framework and revealing a quality much deeper than its basslines. Each song manages to feel thick-as-blood in its purpose yet still airy in its delivery. Cloudy and detached as the music may appear, Fulla-Silvestre is at her most poignant when she’s the most aware of her surroundings. Take the halfway point of the album’s closer, “Itaca Tropical” as an example. Its rhythm mirrors a world where reggaeton rules the clubs unchallenged and her vocals follow a whooping pattern common among pop hits all across Spain’s cities, yet NOIA still never leaves out the intimacies that make her songs stand out. Habits might be easy listening at just under 15 minutes total with each song hitting that golden pop ratio of 3+ minutes. Yet when you take the time to sit with it, there’s no doubt that NOIA’s musical makings have the markers of a striking talent.
Listen to NOIA on bandcamp.
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Elijah Fosl is a freelance music and culture writer who's really bad at describing themselves. They hail from Louisville but live in Chicago where they work, ferociously devouring cassette tapes and local produce. Find them on Twitter at @elifosl or online at elifosl.com.