Music / CD Reviews

Noah × Sela "Split EP"

by Patrick ST. Michel

Special To The Japan Times

Over the course of its six-year existence, Flau Records has carved out an identity as a record label offering intimate music. The actual sonic styles of the artists represented by the acts signed to the border-hopping imprint differ — some make proper songs, some just produce beats, and sometimes there will be a blend of both. One thing in common is that every Flau act sounds like it is whispering in the listener’s ear, from the enveloping warmth of Cokiyu to the kitchen-sink production of Madegg to the sinister hair-raisers Neon Cloud.

Flau’s latest offering, a 12-track split EP between Nagoya-based artist Noah and California’s Sela, also captures this particular aesthetic. Noah was signed to Flau after winning a remix contest for a song by Cokiyu, while Sela has produced tracks for 17-year-old U.S. rapper Kitty. Despite their different backgrounds, the two have a lot in common. For example, they both create beat-centric work, but use vocals as a way to turn simple productions into spine-tinglers. Noah records her actual voice for her half, while Sela sticks to vocal samples. Noah’s woozy “Dune” features a combination of her words presented upfront and deep in the background of the mix, while the lyrics on Sela’s “Even” sound as if they are coming from the next room over.

It’s the small details that really make this split release a winner. Noah knows when to use vocals — “Newworld” clatters until a piano and her voice shoot up late in the song, a trick that flips the song over and sounds gorgeous. Elsewhere, she buries shouts on “Days,” and whispers on the EP’s standout “Do You Remember,” touches that make them seem so much more intimate. Sela’s side is more interested in looping, but his contributions bare similar minute touches — “Violet” and the especially gorgeous “Luna” conceal muffled vocals that add some mystery. This split EP ends up being unified in sound … and it is a perfect fit for Flau’s catalog.

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