When people talk about things like “auditory landscapes” and “next-level” music, it’s easy to forget that, when you strip away all the pretension and clever language, an artist still has to be talented to make an impression. Free of intrusive marketing or grandiose labels, SLK (that’s pronounced Silk to you and me) has been striking out quite the niche for herself as one of the more interesting emerging artists of 2014.
The London-based electronica musician released her first EP, Form, earlier this year, setting the online music world abuzz like a hive of hipster bees as we took in her wise, carefully crafted beats and soaring, moody vocals. There’s a place for female artists who want to explore the darker side of their music - think Lykke Li, Lana Del Rey and the like - and that’s a world SLK slots into comfortably. But there’s something daringly, deliberately off about her music. Ethereal backing vocals, spiky beats, echoey accompaniment-- think somewhere between John Carpenter and Lorde. It’s a fascinating mix, and one that she’s explored in greater detail with her latest single, "Pour."
The vocals are precise, carefully enunciated to create a slightly discomforting but pleasingly hypnotic feel. There’s a delicate flow to the ups and downs of the subdued singing, a perfect match for her soft but versatile voice. It’s hard, in a song such as this, to match the sense of skill and musicality with the sense of atmosphere, but it’s been pulled off to perfection. The echo, the slight wobble, the layering-- it works.
The music itself is really just a canvas for the fascinating vocal work. There’s an almost metronomic regularity to the pulse of the synth, which acts more as a rhythm-keeper than a part of the melody. A clean piano-esque riff pushes through the chorus, and there’s a very meticulous build of sound. Not a wall of noise but something you can sit back and admire as a carefully put-together, richly atmospheric sound. This is the sort of stuff you can’t whip off in half an hour in front of a computer; there’s a real, true and gratifying amount of feeling here.