Monika Enterprise – monika87 – 27th May 2016
The enigmatic Natalie Beridze’s latest album is accompanied by an appropriately enigmatic blurb, which references clouds, un and weightlessness. Such abstraction is entirely appropriate for an album that crates a blur of sonic abstraction and is housed in a cover which features artwork which is far from figurative. What does it all mean? Is it a dream? A hallucination? A mirage? Is it even real? Perhaps, perhaps not: it matters little. To capture and confine the material on Guliagava is more or less impossible. Every moment is fleeting, ephemeral. But then, to attempt to capture the moment would be to spoil the effect, and to diminish its power. It’s not about freezing the moment, but living in it.
The woozy, languid sensuality of ‘For Love’ possesses a smoky, opiate dreaminess. Soft-focus, rolling basslines undulate across stuttering, glitchy beats and gauze-like synths which spiral and drift. There’s a lot of space, a lot of smoke and mirrors as the sound reflect and refract to create strange, dislocated soundtracks. The howling metallic scrapes that open ‘Light is Winning’ give way to a dark, murky and menacing bassline and thunderous bass beats. If light is winning, it’s only just got the edge in what appears to be a truly monumental battle. ‘Natalie whispers, half seductive, half threatening, certain but uncertain: ‘Words, emotions, water, sweat / into the void / In outer space / Once there was only dark / But if u ask me / The light is winning.’
Chiming cadences emerge from within wispy, cloud-like atmospheres. But a deep, penetrating blast heralds the arrival of ‘Tore Up All My Maps’, a track built on the juxtaposition of mellow but taut vocals and a frenetic, heavy-duty drum ‘n’ bass rhythm. The shimmering glimmer of ‘Docha with Fading Grey’ is corrupted by the scratching of surface decay, a sonic rust misting the surface.
The soft vinyl-like crackle that casts a sheen over ‘Opening Night’ evokes a nostalgia not for vinyl, but for the heritage of vinyl, the subconscious yearning for another age, a pre-digital age. What precisely is it that one finds oneself pining for? It is, of course, something undefinable, vague – and it stands as a fair analogy for the experience of listening to this album, in that there’s an inescapable sense of the intangible, the unreachable.
The textures Beridze creates, and the way she contrasts them, are magnificent, making Guliagava an evocative, haunting album heavy with implicit meaning and resonance.