‘Whirlpool like textures swirl around your ears while Azusena’s voice hypnotises you.’
Intro to Azusena
Captivating and hypnotic are just two words that sum up the sound that singer-songwriter Azusena creates. Releasing her initial tracks ‘You,’ (2014) and Clever Gains (2016) through Soundcloud, the past year has seen this British-American artist begin to bring her experimental-pop sound into the public’s ears. Twisting and turning at every moment, this is indulgent, mysterious and intriguing music to get yourself completely absorbed in.
Featured Track 1: Better
Right from the off, Azusena’s March 2017 release ‘Better,’ is a disorientating and confusing track. For that reason, it’s a fascinating one as well. Featuring chopped vocal samples, deep drum sounds and distorted bass, its introduction, is unlike anything I’ve ever heard before.
Breaking into a truer sounding vocal on the initial verse lyrics, the confusion makes way for a chilling atmosphere. Whirlpool like, the accompaniment swirls around your ears while you get hypnotised by Azusena’s vocal. Reaching the chorus, the atmosphere, surprisingly, develops into a slightly less disorientating one. It even hints at mainstream sounding. However, it never reaches it fully.
And why should it? Given the introduction, ‘Better’ was never going resemble mainstream, but then that’s the whole point! Enhancing this further, the chorus ends with computer-like tones before returning to a similar setting as the first verse. However, don’t even start to think you know where the track is going.
Surprising us on another level, halfway through verse two, a totally unexpected electronic tribal-like drum pattern cuts in. Fast and uneven in nature, it’s perfectly placed at the mid-point in the track. While it may seem random at first – even in Azusena’s confusing, but wonderfully musical world – it forms the rhythmic basis for the remainder of the track. Combine this with an emerging melody composed of the opening, child-like sounding chopped samples and all of a sudden, it doesn’t seem so random! In fact, it seems rather ingenious.
Featured Track 2: Red Sky
Released in July, ‘Red Sky’ opens with a mid-pitch guitar riff accompanied by a sustained synth. Guiding us gently to a regular drum pattern, it immediately feels more accessible. That doesn’t mean however that it is any less interesting, and as Azusena’s vocal enters, an equally chilling atmosphere to that in ‘Better’ is created.
Set to an accompaniment based around the opening ideas, the first verse is totally absorbing. Listening intently, you wait with bated breath for every word. Like ‘Better,’ it’s completely fascinating. The same can also be said for the chorus that follows, and as we reach it, a more dominating sound takes hold.
Perfectly reflecting the more confident sounding vocal, dreamy guitar lines and swirling synths combine with rim-shot infused drum patterns. Indulgent in atmosphere, you realise that not only can Azusena create highly successful experimental pop music, but she can create a semi-mainstream sound just as well. This isn’t saying ‘Red Sky’ can be considered mainstream though, far from it.
Reaching the halfway point, a pre-chorus based on the lyrics of ‘I will follow you,’ occurs. Musically a sign of things to come, the combination of Azusena’s vocal and sweeping synths pulls us hypnotically towards an instrumental based bridge. Almost rock-esque in nature, a distorted guitar line cries out before reaching a final chorus set to the most luscious of textures. This may not be music for everyone, but it’s certainly music for me.
Both tracks reviewed are available to buy on iTunes and you can follow Azusena‘s latest progress on Twitter.