Tamara Renée is a NYC-based mystic, conjur woman, alchemist, multi-instrumentalist, and vocalist born and bred in Harlem, New York. On her bandcamp, she notes that her ancestors are Jamaican and Creole, and that she was raised with an African consciousness. Tamara represents the universality and multiplicity of the African Diaspora, and comes from a line of healers and preachers – she continues to heal and share her love of ALL through her music and art. Her most recent release, Ultra Violet, combines a consistent vocal performance with mesmerizing and cohesive hip-hop/soul fusion production in about four and a half short tracks which I wish were longer every time I listen to them.
The EP begins with a robotic texture of Tamara’s voice which announces “introducing Ultra Violet” over dreamy synths and boom-clap percussive beats. She informs the listener that “you are now prepared to take flight” before “wavy” (the second track) opens up, driven by clicking percussion and a very enjoyable descending bassline. I can never decide whether this track is ‘driving’ or ‘laid-back’ – it’s a pleasant mix, for sure, and as usual most of the focus is on Tamara’s vocals. “Shiva” includes an interpolation of “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles, though it’s not too recognizable in anything but lyrical content. Production-wise, “shiva” sounds closer to something out of Flying Lotus or Taylor McFerrin’s catalogues than a Lennon-McCartney collaboration (which is a good thing anyway). The thump is the most distinctive aspect of “shiva” for sure – synth thump, bass thump, drum thump, even some vocal thump. “dread” mellows out the synth textures and adds acoustic percussion in place of more electronic production (or so it seems). Great snare texture, seriously. It’s an intimate number that makes tasteful use of vocal layering and counter-melody over a very simple but entrancing melody played on the keys. “dorothy,” the final track, begins with what seems to be a sample of a jazzy upright bassline and provides a low-key exit to a release which intersperses intensity and relaxation in the most wonderful of ways. It does seem like the last track cuts out abruptly, though – a piano loop is about halfway through its progression when the music stops at 3:09. I’ll forgive that, though, and so (I trust) will you.