new music: mem nahadr’s soul opera ‘femme fractale: an opera of reflection’ eviscerates boundaries #soundcheck

September 18, 2015

Eviscerating boundaries is Mem Nahadr’s modus operandi, a performance artist whose work spans theatre, film, and clubs. Her 2009 record Eclecticism earned critical acclaim for its—well—eclecticism, while her 2008 play Madwoman: A Contemporary Opera gave her an opportunity to showcase her larger-than-life aesthetic and multi-octave vocal range. As an African American woman with albinism, she’s become an icon, appearing in Elle, People, Maxim, and National Geographic, emphasizing the boundlessness of beauty. On her latest record, Femme Fractale: An Opera of Reflection, Mem Nahadr marries her classical aspirations to her soul inclinations for a collection of songs unlike anything else.

By Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK Contributor

The 18 track set moves between beat-heavy soul, and interstitial instrumentals. Her massive palate ranges from trance drums and retro synths to post-punk guitars to reverb-soaked strings, and always her massive voice. On tracks like “Grey Aria,” Mem Nahadr evokes Grace Jones, flexing the lowest lows of her range over an insistent club beat. Despite her natural inclination for bombast, on Femme Fractale, she’s most successful when the arrangements are sparsest. The clipped beats on “M Theory” give her voice room to explore, while the (comparatively) sparse “Underground” ends the album on a high note.

The album is self-released, and physical copies are available through Mem Nahadr’s website.

Photo Credit: Joseph Boggess