✦✧ is the newest release from Elaiza Santos, previously known as WHATEVER, DAD and currently a member of Crying and 100%. If you read No Smoking, you’ll know I’m a fan: I’ve covered her music previously here and here. She introduced the album on her facebook: ” i took half a melatonin and finally met the shadow entity that had been appearing in our apartment. decided i’d like to share some recordings in celebration of this equinox and the strange weather that greets it.”
This album is definitely a shadow entity of its own sort. The bandcamp color scheme is a uniform red, obscuring things like song titles and lyrics unless one purposefully highlights them with a mouse. The band name and album are absolutely ungoogleable, the only traces of which can be found on obscure tumblr pages and links on facebook for those lucky denizens who are “in the know” (ugh). The album cover is a recipe for basketti, which, if you didn’t know, is best served with “orangey-red spicy stuff for topping”. Her main band, Crying, saturated with pastels and cyberpunk pastiche, plays with indie behemoth Alex G, and is seriously popular on the Internet (I know using facebook likes as a metric for popularity is silly and so obnoxiously post-internet, but almost 9,000 people and/or robots clicking a piece of content to say “I like this” is significant).
All this obfuscation makes for an ambiguous listen. We are only able to glean snippets and suggestions of Elaiza’s life: snapshots of sledding, oceans, Baltimore, obscured in a lexical spiderweb of brilliant and impressionistic lyricism. The songs are demo-quality recordings, varied iterations of Elaiza’s dulcet soprano and acoustic guitar. Unlike some of the previous material, ✦✧ seems to contain a selection of field recordings to accompany the acoustic songwriting. “Clara” has a quiet, shuffling drum track and a sample that sounds like the delicate tinkering of a glass jar. “Sled” has the microphone hiss of the wind whistling and soft crunches that could be the patter of feet.
I don’t know if there’s anything I can say about ✦✧ to enhance your listening of it. For me, Elaiza is at her best when the music is most minimal and stripped down, allowing her brilliant songwriting to take precedent. Though simple, her music is always extremely thoughtfully composed. This is a remarkably intimate album. Take a listen on her bandcamp!