Polish singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Aga Ujma has signed to Slow Dance Records, the first single for which was released today.
Ujma uses seemingly disparate influences and instruments – her incredibly singular sound traces a lineage between fellow explorers Bjork, Múm, Eivør, CocoRosie and Current 93, blending traditional folk with minimal avant-garde production and Eastern instrumentation – which she coalesces into unequivocally precise but unpredictably tapering structures, eking a sweet melodic nectar.
Ujma’s new single In The Ocean is beyond exemplary of this staggering concoction, as an ethereal tide that transcends genre entirely; the track also illustrates the fairytale-like melancholy that pervades her music. The track incorporates elements of folk, especially via the otherworldly, chiming syncopation of Ujma’s gendèr – a Gamelan instrument used in Balinese and Javanese traditional music – which splices the musician’s abstract, soothing vocals in a galvanic manner. Amongst these delicate textures, Ujma also weaves psychedelic elements through the track’s latter half, with an abrupt yet elusive manoeuvre into another aural realm – herein, the vocals’ glacial power takes on a captivating, yearning aura and the golden effusion of the gendèr becomes emboldened by quickened, vibrant playing. This myriad of components flows succinctly and with a emotive, enlivening vigour.
Of the genesis and intention behind In The Ocean, Ujma says:
“In the Ocean was written using traditional polyphonic Central Javanese patterns (cengkok) played on gender barung in unusual ways: I extended them, chopped in little chunks and alternated some of their melodies and glued them back together, creating a mosaic with numeric music notation (kepatihan). Then, I fitted in a tailored singing part with a poem that reflects on the state of sadness and where it can lead us if we trust the process. It also touches upon missing multiple homes at the same time and a psychedelic tropical picnic on a desert beach.”
The new track has also been given a music video, created by Polish born but New York-based experimental animation artist Gabriela Sibilska – who explains the manifestation of the video’s surreal, kaleidoscopic aesthetic here:
“Aga’s music has a lot of layers, and it is so beautifully complicated and complex. In my work, I like to combine more traditional, cartoony 2D animation with a range of experimental practices, including glitch art and exploring the power of old analog video mixers.”
See the video, here