The thing that instantly grabs you about The Nation Of One, the debut album from Saint Petersburg duo VEiiLA, is the smoke-shrouded vocal of Vif Nüte. Possessing a voice capable of delicate musing to anguished frustration, hers is a vocal infused with equal doses of rich jazz phrasing and raw bluster, often within the same track. That vocal is best showcased on the pairing of ‘Dust’ and ‘Trust’ that open The Nation Of One, or the languid Balearic shimmer of ‘ReDive’. On these pieces, her voice is matched to delicate, if restless, electronics, a natural sparseness in these accompanying structures allowing the voice to powerfully occupy the foreground with a beautifully devastating depth.
These tracks are perhaps atypical for VEiiLA, however. Their principle focus is on tracks conforming to clubbier expectations, Nüte’s voice becoming a texture within a grid of beats, pulses and the obligatory rises and falls of any descendant of house music. Here you find a a compelling tension between Nüte’s innately soulful leaning and the clinical precision of her and Bes Eiredt‘s music, with tracks like the restrained and bitter ‘Exorcism’ carrying a stridency and emotional power as the song slowly rises to a necessary release.
Elsewhere, the evolving, transcendent ‘Farewell’ might be the duo’s most complete statement, with a crisp, crunchy beat, Rhodes-esque keys and jazz piano knitting seamlessly together with a mournful and tenderly enveloping vocal. Its concluding moments unexpectedly coalesce into a clamorous, edgy stew of melodic spirals, angular bass shapes and ghostly, evocative howling.
The Nation Of One by VEiiLA is released on January 15 2020 by Womhole World.
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