I saw Emika's set at Mutek Montreal 2013 and was very impressed. I've been listening to her Nina Tune album, DVA lot as a result. Bombastic; grandiose; pretentious; majestic; sexy; fragile; delicate: this music warrants a lot of adjectives. Both classically and technologically trained in music, Czech-blooded, England raised, Berlin-living 'diva' Emika has what must be a very desirable day job at Native Instruments as a sound designer; by night she's a purveyor of dark dubsteppy electronic pop.
<p>DVA proves Emika to be a fearless sonic explorer, venturing head-on into whatever brash declaration of over the top post-dubstep electro-pop grandeur suits her. The results are a heady mix indeed – some might find it heavy handed at times or too dramatic, too pop – her sound could be off putting to some, but if you're willing to go there with her, it's damn good music she's producing. </p> <p>Her day job as a NI sound designer is clearly paying off: the album is lush with beautiful synths – perfect brass patches, beautiful electric pianos, massive strings sounds, huge washes, warbles, soundscapes of bass. Her production is so rich and flawless that her vocals end up at times sounding like the weaker link in the chain as a result in a few spots – "Centuries" in particular for me has a few notes where I feel like she overpowers her voice with her own lush production. But her vocal style, lyrics and range, mostly covers any imbalances between voice and accompaniment. </p> <p>The album starts out with "Hush" a short track featuring Michael Srumova redolent of classical/sacred music, before "Young Minds" where Emika hits hard with the insanely heavy bass that dominates the headphones, backed up by a slow sultry beat and stylish vocals. "She Beats" is the first of a few tracks with a vaguely video gamey feel, also reminds me a bit of guitar virtuoso Al Di Meola – another musical genius unafraid to venture to extremes of over the top grandiose. "Filters" has a slow, hazy acid-jazz feel, "Dem Worlds" has a huge, beautiful orchestral feel – there's no shortage of different feels throughout the album, but it's remarkably consistent regardless.</p> <p>Standout tracks, from a pop song perspective include "I Sleep With My Enemies", "Searching", and "Centuries". Another unexpected feature of the album is Emika's decision to include a cover of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game". She actually pulls it off pretty well surprisingly although whether it needed to be done is debatable, but as I pointed out, Emika doesn't appear to be one to shy away from such a thing. </p> <p>A great album end to end, highly recommended listening. Also check out the video for "Centuries", and by all means check Emika out live if given the chance.</p>