Listening to FKA twigs I get the feeling of some futuristic, chromed-out world where the human race has evolved into these translucent, sentient beings. We perceive emotion and pleasure through various vibrations in the atmosphere. Temperature changes cause shifts in mood and the universe has melded with us, where we are connected psychically with the cosmos. The music on M3LL155X only solidifies this vision of the future for me. It’s this ultra-sheened, crisp, start-stop beats with ethereal vocals that transform from breathy, sultry and very human to something like a sexually charged AI experiment where the music acts as some android come-on. It’s this sonic stroke of neo-futuristic beauty and genius. This is what Herbie was talking about when he named an album Future Shock back in the neon age of the 80s.
I don’t think I’m certified to properly talk about this music. Sure, I’ve got an IQ that’s somewhere in the 120s(possibly higher since I stopped eating sugary cereals and licking 9-Volt batteries.) I listen to a lot of music. Like, a lot. And I’ve in the last year fallen into a hole of indie and experimental electronic music that I have no intention of digging myself out of. But this? I don’t know. That mix of glitchy, clicky pristine electronic beats and studio wizardry, with that sensual R&B vocalization and sometimes overbearing club-banging bass…well it just makes me feel uncomfortable. It’s like Mariah Carey was devoured by the robot in Richard Stanely’s Hardware and it shacked up with Baths’ Will Wiesenfeld for a summer fling. There’s enough of the human element in the music to keep you around and intrigued, and the production is bar none some of the best you’ll hear anywhere(yeah, even from you Jamie XX), but there are moments where I think I’m getting some digital signal from another dimension. Or from some other far off planet where music is sent directly into ones brain stem using computer-generated thoughts and primate tears.
“Figure 8” is like St. Vincent’s being run through a pleasure bot. Slow-burning and longing, Tahliah Debrett Barnett shows off her vocals quite nicely before the song falls into some sort of hallucinatory, digital wormhole. “I’m Your Doll” feels like the plea of a Replicant. You paid the 10 grubells, now have your fun with her. The details are overwhelming in this song. You can lose sight of the human heart in there, but it’s there. The track gets loud and gritty like a NIN track towards the end. “In Time” is a pretty pop track. Probably the most straight forward track on this EP. I mentione Will Wiesenfeld earlier for a reason. I feel like Barnett and Wiesenfeld are similar musical specters. They haunt those same beat-covered halls. This song is a great mix of that glitchy pop and mildly confessional lyric writing, with a mix of 80s pop diva sheen. “Glass & Patron” is the most vulnerable Barnett gets here, right before the big beats come in and those glitches come to bat us into submission. “Mothercreep” has an almost sinister, cyberpunk vibe.
FKA twigs takes those old R&B and soul tropes and turns them inside out. She adds a mechanical heart and a cyber kinetic brain to the aging body and atrophy-ridden muscles of that old soul. What emerges is the music on M3LL155X. It slinks and creeps with the agile beauty of some mythical creature. It pulsates and beeps like a robotic extension of emotion. It’s weird, overwhelming, and quite fascinating.
8.1 out of 10