akua’s debut ep ‘one’s company’ is equal parts sexy & eerie, electronic & organic. but it’s mostly just hot. #soundcheck

July 17, 2013

Akua calls her music “remote soul” but that goes against the intimacy and immediacy of her songs. There’s nothing remote about it. It’s more like post-R&B. On her debut EP One’s Company, Akua blends R&B melodies with glitchy drums playing Afro-Cuban polyrhythms and chillwave synths.

The title track finds the venn diagram overlap between eerie and sexy. Haunting synths sustain in the background beneath densely layered and manipulated vocals, but the songwriting is full of classic R&B hooks. Akua seems to be exploring some of the same territory as recent favorites like Bells Atlas, The Seshen, Laura Mvula, and Pegasus Warning. Though each of those artists has their own take on it, Akua is part of a growing trend of artists looking simultaneously back on R&Bs classics and on its possible deconstructed future. The detailed warped textures of the production contrast and battle the smooth vocal.

The songs on One’s Company obsess over atmosphere. And part of what makes it compelling is the way Akua’s voice shifts in and out of focus. One minute dominant in the mix, the next just another of many sounds and textures. This is clearest on the closer “Monsters,” which begins with one of the cleanest hooks on the EP before devolving into a mess of 8-bit blips and sample and hold madness. It’s the sort of song that’s at once compellingly and maddeningly minimal. Akua isn’t fighting a war between ambiance and melody, she’s trying to broker a peace between them.

– Words by Nathan Leigh