Lately, I haven't really wanted to delve into new music. Nostalgia seems pretty comfortable to me, and the old tunes just seem to hit the spot. Leave it to Elektra to shake me out of my complacency. It's been some time since I've heard from this uber-talented lady; 2016 I believe, and although she has an incredible backstory and catalogue of works, I'm not going to reiterate it here. Suffice to say her musical oeuvre ranges from pop to the avant garde with a lot of stops in-between. Her latest, 'Frequency' is 10 tracks of mind-blowing electro in 42 minutes. Sometimes seductive, sometimes disturbing, sometimes humorous, and sometimes angry, Elektra covers a lot of ground, and she did most of it (vocals, compositions, instruments, recording, arrangements, production, mixing, and artwork) herself, only with a little help from Niels van der Weiden with additional drums, programming, bass and keyboards on some tracks.
According to Elektra, 'Frequency' is based on a series of dreams she had been having while living on the grounds of a heavily haunted monastery. An otherworldly being would visit her every night for many months telling her the story of her life. How she used to be human, and how she made some wrong choices, and now she wanted her story to be heard. She moved Elektra till the depth of her soul, and she also made an effort to summarize her entire story in words, not just in words set on music. Perhaps that's why the album sounds so haunted, and now we know there really is a ghost in the machine!
From the infectious opening rhythmic sequence in "Take Your Time" your ears are likely to tingle with an anticipation you just can't put your finger on. Elektra's voice has never sounded better, and what starts out as an angelic vision of unconditional love turns into a fatal attraction scenario by the end. Yowza! "I don't need your love...I got my own" is the opening line of the techno-tronic "Electromagnetic Pulse" with a little reverse voyeurism ("I like watching you when they're watching me...") thrown in for good measure. Can't help but think about the Red Light District women of Amsterdam, and what might be on their minds any given night. Perhaps the obvious choice for the 'hot hit' from this album is the delightfully delicious "Fat, Sugar & Cream," which is repeated constantly throughout the song. It's also heavily dubstep influenced with lots of synth sweeps too. This is one fuck of a killer track that should be picked up by every alternative radio station in Europe and the UK. (Won't get played here in teenage wasteland excepting maybe a handful of college stations, and only after midnight.)
The other track that's likely to garner some airplay is the next one, "Soldier" with its haunting melody. By the time we get to the title track I'm reminded a little of Jarboe (wondering what she's been doing lately), especially on "Freedom Train," an unusual sort of melodic recitation with explicit sexual references, and a crying baby, which I found fairly disturbing. (The infant, not the sex.) If you found that weird, the industrialized "Darebedoll" pushes the envelope even further. Gotta love the line "...I'll be your fucking dog, and no more Iggy Pop, enough of ripping off, I'm saying hey, hey hey, I want you Darebedoll..." Absolutely twisted, but in a good way.
Three more tracks I will leave without comment, not because they don't merit it (they do) but I should save something to be surprised by. Just a teaser though- one of them seems to be a nod to Portishead, musically. This is a great album worthy of many lofty accolades reviewers more talented than moi are bound to heap upon it. Every aspect (vocals, synths, programming, songwriting) is incredible. If I didn't already know Elektra, I would be on a mad search to find out everything about her after listening to this. As is, once again, she's set the bar high…really high. Available on CD (limited) and download now, vinyl (also limited) coming in September. Wouldn't mind having a vinyl copy myself...