Label: Compost Records
Having already cemented herself firmly in dance music culture with releases on Stattmusik and Raoul record labels by the time she was 19, Emilie Nana is juxtapositioned comfortably at Compost Records. Mentored and supported by the legendary Glenn Underground, she unashamedly flirts between German tech, US house, African rhythms and influences. Based in her studio in Geneva the Lyon descendent of Cameroon heritage to takes you through the neo-pop, cyber-political and civil-rights inspired influences of Black Panther activist Elaine Brown in her brain. The Meeting Legacy (four years in the making) is all set to an acid-soul-synth fest of an eighties soundtrack dragged down the yellow brick road to see the Valley Of The Dolls just for the hell of it.
If you put Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, in a blender with Kraftwerk and Zapp, then sprinkled some Japanese Harajuku style in there you would come up with intro track Off The Street. Well Miss Nana does anyway – it certainly gets your attention as the bass trumpets over the diva-esque vocals of Nana and underpins her voice as she rap-commands us to “Fantasize Like Freaks”. Clearly influenced by Time, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis (Janet Jackson‘s producers) all of whom were Prince protégés (Prince passed away six days ago) is Music. A definite back-in-time for me on this one and praise for a great interpretation on eighties production skills which were more organic in its approach in today’s world of computer-led programming. Loving the synthetic vocals on this too.
Tolstoy Changes is a spoken word tomé set amongst the warping hypnotic tones of beats and drums. A synthed-out wind section adds drama in the right places. Nothing On Our Shoulders feat Toma Izzo is a more upbeat affair still firmly ensconced in her experimentation with eighties synth. This is given a heady dose of Germanic infusion reminiscent of Kruder and Dorfmeister. Confessions Of No Language a musical vox-pop diary of Nana’s life and thought processes which envelop wordy meanderings and off-the-track soundbites. Seriously moody is James’ Story – the music does the talking with dark strobing basslines that set the tone as James Zenati paints an audial landscape with his intriguing voice. He leaves the rest up to your imagination to finish the end of what he begins.
Cybernetic black power is served up on the The Meeting Legacy, which is easily my favourite track. There is a certain conviction that runs through this track and as the tempo builds on the layers – as Nana’s powerful translation of the story of Elaine Brown, Black Panther activist has imprinted on the producer/DJ. Powerful stuff as the vocals triggers deep thought complimenting the music as it buries itself deep inside your psyche, a dose of the hard stuff. Like You was the first of a quintet of tracks released in 2013 when Nana was first signed to Compost. Drawing on her French-Cameroon roots she injects a little Zouk into electronic music and does it so well too, it should be done more often in the industry and with the same finesse. A jovial up-beat score that lifts the heaviness of the previous tracks.
Her interpretation of John Howard Griffin’s book Black Like Me, hers is one of colourful flamboyance, culture, joy set attune to this vivid track which she interprets and executes brilliantly. Nana gets a little French synth-pop in the melancholy track I’m Childish, So What! Released on Compost Black last year, another favourite of mine. Final track Inward Path continues the light-hearted sound and displaying her happier side.
A brilliant collection of electronica music that isn’t afraid to bend the genres, take itself seriously and have a little play. Emilie Nana lets you inside her mind to see exactly what make her tick and tock. A new-guard of future music is here and it’s a female in production, who is never more comfortable than in her studio.
Review by Sandra Swaybe-Barrett
On General Release Vinyl 6 May CD 20 May
Music | Emilie Nana – The Meeting Legacy