Saga Aava ~ Darkness

“I want to get my life back,” repeats an anonymous narrator on “۷.Sju,” the concluding track of Brooklyn artist Saga Aava‘s debut EP.  The sentiment is echoed around the world.  As we remain in a holding pattern, we fall prey to unusual thoughts.  Saga Aava uses field recordings and non-linear sound snippets to translate “the madness of her world” into something relatable.

The fact that the field recordings were captured from New York to London makes the set an intercontinental mirror.  Sometimes the unseen protagonist is in a car, other times the subway, exposing the tension between isolation and forced exposure.  Although few people would recognize the sound of transcranial magnetic stimulation, it’s included here as well: a non-invasive medical procedure meant to alleviate depression.  “We are now in a state of war,” declares a conductor in the opening piece, but the interpretation is open-ended.  One may receive the words as a military, medical or spiritual declaration.

The cumulative effect is that of a sound collage: people, trains, plastic, birds, a jumble of seemingly disconnected noises that comprise an artificial environment.  “You’re changing ideas on me; it just means that have to adapt,” remarks one speaker.  Life in big cities is a constant dance of adaptation, never more so than in a crisis.  But cities are also rich sources of sound.  The contrast between footsteps and megaphone in “۵.Fem is a microcosm of the life we “want to get back.”  “It’s abnormal to be this calm!  It’s insane to be this sane!” pleas the speaker as rain begins to fall.  Counter-intutitively, Saga Aava injects placid bell tones on the subsequent piece, ending on a soft, cheerful “hello.”  As in life, there’s no dominant mood; we have all the raw material set before us, and are asked to choose.

The only quibble ~ and most artists would love such a criticism ~ is that the release is far too short, perfect for the CD3″ format but in its digital form as quick as a passing cloud.  Here’s hoping this intriguing debut leads to a larger project down the line.  (Richard Allen)

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