A Sci-Fi Bop
SPELLLING’s sophomore album Mazy Fly is a stellar explosion of glittery production and cryptic vocalization. The record’s fusion of live percussion, alien sound effects and RnB choruses are key to Oakland-based musician Tia Cabral’s exploration of self-limitation as a POC experimental artist. Mazy Fly may not be a so-called perfect electronic record, but it unapologetically investigates the mental and physical boundaries through its organic self.
“Red” is an eccentric introduction to the record. The following tracks “Haunted Water” and “Hard to Please” feature these digitalized, hyper robotic synths and clubbish kicks until they find their place alongside Cabral’s breathy vocals. Her singing can register as jazzy, remaining soothing yet charismatic, especially on “Real Fun” where she vocally impresses like a melodic Billie Holiday hum. Lines like “joyride pass the sun…aliens looking for real fun,” keep the song flirty until the sounds reach a climatic breach. “Afterlife” also plays with mesmerizing jazz elements as spacey saxophone solos play over a jungle-like beat.
The album interestingly falls in and out of several genres throughout its runtime. “Golden Number” plays like an experimental reggae song. Detuned guitars and haunting vocals are placed over the canvas of a warping synth. The following track “Melted Wings” switches to a more orchestral vibe with cellos and melancholic orchestral compositions. The switch up works, and Cabral maintains an undertone of excitement within her timbres and effects, bending her style like a Yves Tumor production. “Under the Sun” uses an idiosyncratic loop pedal that brilliantly holds the song’s catchiness together as if it were an ’80s pop song. Even sonic influences of retro soul music can find its way in Cabral’s crazy production on “Dirty Desert Dreams.” With its jumpy RnB rhythm, this could be what a spaced-out Amy Winehouse “Back to Black” would sound like.
The most impressive moments on the record lie within Cabral’s intelligent sound design and mindful structuring choices. “Hard to Please (Reprise)” exemplifies this perfectly. With a dry percussive beat that eventually becomes quenched by a funky underwater sounding bass, Cabral proves that she has a gift in manipulating ideas in creative directions. Cabral’s silky-smooth voice begins to follow a fuzzy synth reminiscent of the Stranger Things theme song. Her lyrics are simple, direct and space-themed as she sings “Take me with you to the sky.”
Mazy Fly sometimes sounds like homemade recordings, and this could be why the album feels so naturally inviting and warm. Especially in “Secret Thread,” the lo-fi synths and Tierra Whack-like tunes caress Cabral’s seductive lyricism: “Mazy fly bat my wings and winked my eyes.” The song gets satisfyingly crazy towards the end with detuned blasting melodies and crashing cymbals. Perhaps this could have been Cabral’s key way out, but there is the final track “Falling Asleep.” Sadly, this introspective listen falls short of its creative potential in being a memorable outro. Nonetheless, this record is still absolutely enthralling.
The whole record may take you a second listen to really grasp the sensation it offers, but it’s worth it. Mazy Fly is a beautiful record, especially in the moments that it loses control and fully embraces its stunningly weird, dreamy self. Mazy Fly is Cabral’s stylistic step forward in solidifying her name as a sci-fi pop goddess.