Future musical myth-making
For Nandi Rose’s aptly named fifth album, Mythopoetics, the dream-pop singer recounts tales of past lives and the re-shaping of reality for a project that feels simultaneously minimalist and multi-layered. Collaborating with film composer Zubin Hensler for the album, a frequent collaborator of Rose’s, the duo intended on creating an album of minimalism with an emphasis on the acoustic and stripped-back. Instead, the pair ended up creating something more akin to something they dubbed “a texturally diverse and kaleidoscopic sonic universe.”
Rose, known under her moniker Half Waif, has been creating songs under the electronica/ethereal genre with themes of family, memory and independence since her first album Kotekan in 2014. She frequents layered synth-pop and soft psychedelic worlds and writes songs that fit the intense yet vulnerable dream life she’s created for herself.
12 songs make up her new project Mythopoetics, each generally beginning as a whisper and ending in a shout. “Fabric” is the opener, a song shaped along a melodic scale with dainty fingers stepping along the keys of the piano, an understated and soothing reflection on dependence. Rose creates a stark contrast to “Fabric” with the second track, “Swimmer,” a deceptively layered song with some bold features such as melodica-like instrumentation, hyper-electronic keyboards and warm synth-pop tones.
“Take Away The Ache” accumulates its parts as it goes along, beginning as a minimalist track with a simple beat and turning into something experimental with many different features from a synthesizer. The overall vibe is reminiscent of a mixture of the spiritual minimalism of Weyes Blood and the synth-led experimentalism of the Tune-Yards.
“The Apartment” is a song of struggling to take control, letting life roll you over into bad habits and leaning on an imperfect partner to pick up the pieces. Half Waif sings, “I wanna see you smile enough for the both of us/ forget what I said last night/ it doesn’t matter if you’re trying to change/ honestly I’ve been caught in the middle since I was a child/ now I’ve taken up cigarettes, and I hate what is made me.” Beginning as a gentle, cosmic whisper, light synth notes played in repeating patterns give way to a soft voice, with “The Apartment” gradually awakening with a crescendo and becoming a passionate cry for help.
Led in with a haunting take on the use of steel dreams, “Orange Blossoms” is a song about isolation and desperation. She sings, “Somebody buy me roses/ somebody make sure I get out of bed today/ Somebody be my baby/ Somebody say that I don’t get in my own way/ Somebody hold my head up….”
A song of obvious vices, “Sodium & Cigarettes,” centers around the question, “Do I deserve what’s coming to me?” The last song of the album, “Powder,” is the softest track of the album, the perhaps one true minimalist track with a simple piano, poetic lyrics, a rotating synth and horn undertones. “I am standing far back from when we watched when I was younger/ The living room is black the house is gone/ The vacant lot a little scar.” A three-minute story told across a scalar climb, “Powder” feels like a slow and satisfying journey across time and music.
With 12 tracks tackling emotionality and introspection, Half Waif has created an album built on deep, pulsing beats and scalar climbs across the treble clef. The result is something like a branch off of the tree of Grimes, Cocteau Twins or even Tennis, another sure-of-herself fem singer in the world of dream-pop.