British alt-soul singer SLK has been building buzz with the help of mentions by BBC Radio and MTV, and assisted by her producer Embody, her debut EP Form has set her up to emerge as one of the more original voices in electronic pop. This is quite an accomplishment for a work that opens up with a minute-long exercise in experimental dissonance and creepy sound effects. Don’t get me wrong–you’ll still walk away from Form humming some of its hooks on your way to work, but it stands out because its more abstract moments make SLK’s gorgeous R&B balladry even more poetic and unique.
These are requiems and swan songs for an abandoned civilization. With its disturbing industrial interludes, haunting spaciousness, and SLK’s painful crooning, Form leads you into visualizing decrepit buildings and tragically empty streets. Pitch-shifted moans make you think it might have been zombies, but booming sub bass suggests an angry rise of the machines, Terminator-style.
Whatever brought on the tragic end, there isn’t much left to make music with. On Ride, the percussion sounds like it was picked randomly out of cardboard boxes found in dusty attics. Slipping sounds, metallic clangs, and wooden blocks with suffocating reverb resonate against one another. Voices come to your ears in melodically chopped-up pieces. Everything sounds a little broken, pulled out from under the rubble of modernity and stitched together from spare parts, with SLK playing the role of someone who identifies with the abandoned objects and leftovers. She’s the voice of the forgotten buildings, crooning to be shown love, to be nurtured, and rebuilt.
She begins to sound less defeated on Be. Who wouldn’t feel confident with the spirit of Phil Collins supporting them with keyboards? Once Call comes around, all the things that go bump in the night have been washed away by a cleanly heard piano and a choir shouting and marching to the sound of a relentless kick drum. Neglect can’t hold SLK down by the end. She’s learned to demand attention.
Form will earn SLK many comparisons to BANKS, and that’s pretty high praise indeed. But at the edges of this release, there’s something very different–a taste for the eerie that’s far more unsettling than anything BANKS has made. Show her some love, and grab Form on iTunes.