Every time that Sienná, or an artist like her, (though, to be honest, I can’t think of an artist like her,) comes under my pen, it is a helpful reminder about music and culture. All too often, the term “electronic music” is synonymous with beat-driven, cliched clubland sounds, ones relatively devoid of more profound meaning and any thought other than dance, monkey, dance! I’m not saying that Sienná makes music that isn’t found in clubs, but I am saying that if her music were the norm for such places, then the world would be a much more intriguing and thoughtful place.
Sure, her music is made using electronica, sound manipulations and samples. Still, such terms only tell us something about the building blocks rather than the sonic architecture that is being built with them. Importantly, what she creates with them is something rather unique.
Any artist is, to some extent, influenced by their environment, both the one they currently find themselves in and the one that provides their formative experiences. So the fact that Sienná is a Japanese expatriate who now calls Norway home makes for an exciting set of sonic touchstones.
And so this new album proves to be the case—a spacious and ever-shifting array of Western beats and Eastern traditions, delicate jazz lines, surreal sonic ebbs and flows, musical juxtapositions and avant-garde experimentation. A glorious and creative collision between Occident and Orient, the past and the present, or put another way, a blend of Noh and Eno, of now and Zen.
There are tracks such as Encircle Me Now, which conform more towards Western clubland expectations, at least some of the time, and then there are moments such as the title track, which leans more toward the sounds of the East.
But precisely, these two opposing forces working on each other make the music so gorgeous and unique. The restraint of her homeland traditions keeps the tracks from moving too close to the usual electronic realms of repetition and rigidity. The more groovesome forces, conversely, unite the more fracture elements of the music and act like musical glue. It is bold, but it is balanced. Delicately overwhelming through delicate understatement.
And then there are tracks such as Pay It Forward, which are the best of all worlds. A series of loose, tumbling beats balance out the use of space, where disembodied spoken word vocals share the song with haunting harmonies. Intrigue is matched with energy—mystique with melody. The music always sounds slightly otherworldly, but that is to be expected from an artist who seems able to hop genres (or perhaps is unaware of them) as easily as she embraces cultures.
Strange, beguiling, addictive and more than a bit awesome.
Official website: www.sienna-web.com
Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/no/artist/sienn%C3%A1/60696277