BEST NEW INDIE: NAVA - RITUAL
Milan-based producer/singer/songwriter Nava explores the beauty and terror of blurry boundaries on "Rituals"!
Technology is very good at categorizing the world around us. From the telescope to the microscope, every new technological advancement broadens the scope of our understanding of the world around us, giving new names to the whirling chaos that surrounds us from the moment we come out of the womb.
This taxonomic instinct can go too far, however, becoming a new cloud of chaos to separate us from the real and true and good. The bitter flame wars of online echo chambers is the most pressing example, where people take turns wielding conflicting ideologies to dissect some anonymous stranger on the other side of a glowing screen. Definitions get fuzzy, nebulous, and subjective when you zoom in too close. This fuzziness is the neutron cloud that causes such harm in people's minds, "I'm not enough of a [insert identifier here.]" At their deepest, almost-molecular level, names and labels are designed to exclude. It's saying "this is this and not that."
Iranian-born/Milan-based art pop provocateur Nava is exploring this static field of negative discharge on "Ritual" - a shuddering, post-industrial synthpop banger that defies categorization as anything other than extremely tasteful, cosmopolitan dancy synthpop.
NAVA - RITUAL
"Ritual" comes on with a battering bass drum, over which Nava's chant-like singing invokes a state of machine trance. Banging percussion gives way to a stuttering, shuddering bassline, a machine trance over the more organic old-world ritualism. It's the sound of someone flitting through archives of ancient cultures on a smartphone screen while vintage Nonesuch field recordings plays quietly in the corner. It's the sound of browsing hashtags until experiencing an epiphany, realizing we're all more alike than different. "Same-same but different," as you hear in Thailand.
Nava is exploring a similar style and aesthetic to 21st Century avant-sound artists like Arca, Fever Ray, or The Knife. Nava almost mines a similar visual aesthetic to Arca with the video for "Ritual," inspired by iconic dark design Gareth Pugh. The aesthetic speaks to something being full to the point of bursting, containing too many multitudes, too much meaning. It's as if Akira's Tetsuo were full of tweets and @mentions, to the point of monstrosity.
"Ritual" finds some beauty in this over-saturation. Perhaps we should just let things burst, leave them to rupture and let real empathy and understanding leak out, inspiring our own virtual epiphanies. We Are: The Guard are all down for it. Here's to a brave new world of Gods and monsters, of beauty, terror, and awe. Most of all, here's to a brave new world of interesting, compelling, artful electronic music from those not afraid to define their own taste.
J. Simpson occupies the intersection between criticism, creativity, and academia. Based out of Portland, Or., he is the author of Forestpunk, an online journal/brand studying the traces of horror, supernatural, and the occult through music, fashion and culture. He plays in the dreamfolk band Meta-Pinnacle with his partner Lily H. Valentine, with whom he also co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective focused on elevating Pop Culture to High Art.