Elba is the debut EP from Metadata Records label head Jon Bierman (Dark Arps) and poet, vocalist and experimental sound artist Amber Sawicki (amsii). It arrives in February 2022 and is an eight-track affair that pushes electronic boundaries with an elevated pop sensibility.
This duo came together in 2018 and has drawn the best out of each artist. Bierman produced thefirst two EPs for his label and has also landed on Woodwork Recordings, Submarine Vibes and Suprematic Sounds. He has spent a lifetime exploring a wide gamut of technical and artistic disciplines in electronic music, video production, graphic design, animation, and 3D computer graphics, and is a live performer at the heart of his native Vancouver scene.
Singer-songwriter Amber Sawicki is an immensely talented vocalist and composer whose lyrics tap into the sense of urban decay that is currently unfolding around the world amidst late-stage capitalism. Her style spans R&B, electro and new wave and on this EP, her orations elate the body and soul while Bierman’s technically sophisticated techno-tinged breakbeats work the body. The release is named after Amber’s grandmother Ruth Elba, as a tribute to the long line of musicians and artists in her family who have come before her. Here comes a delightful Back To Mine from the duo…
Hybrid – Wider Angle (Wide Angle/Live Angle)
17 year old me walked into Virgin Megastore on Oxford Street and this was playing on the Tannoy, the floor staff’s music selection was impeccable that day. It is impossible to overstate the lasting effect this double album had on my musical aspirations. Producers Mike Truman and Chris Healings created a backbone of futuristic progressive breaks, house and trance, elevated by Julee Crusie’s otherworldly vocals, enveloped in an orchestral score composed by Sacha Puttnam, performed by the Royal Russian Federal Orchestra. Nothing can touch this.
Hybrid - Dreaming Your Dreams
Radiohead – Subterranean Homesick Alien
I’ve bawled my eyes out to this at least twice, during some of the lower ebbs in my life – one time may or may not have been after accidentally ingesting an heroic dose of mushrooms. OK Computer was the first Radiohead album produced by Nigel Godrich and like any proper Radiohead fan, I recognize him as “the fifth Beatle” in his role as engineer/producer and count him as a core influence. Although they have a reputation for making ‘sad music’ this song in particularencapsulates feelings of isolation and loneliness in a way that nothing ever has for me. Those whistling guitar and keyboard leads, that descending chorus, Thom’s broken vocals, they seed a waterfall in my guts.
Subterranean Homesick Alien
Matthew Dear – Modafinil Blues
Matthew Dear does his best David Bowie impression on my favourite track from his 2017 album, ‘Bunny’. As ‘Audion’ he opened my ears to techno one night in 2005 when my friend Jonny dragged me into the second room at Fabric, up until this point I did not like or get techno and was strictly grooving to drumnbass and breaks. Matthew blew my fucking brains out that night while Jonny grinned at me as he witnessed me realizing what an idiot I’d been this whole time.
Matthew Dear - Modafinil Blues
Royksöpp – What Else is There? (Trentemøller Remix)
This is more about the remix as it is about the original although Royksöpp is quintissential ‘back to mine’ material. Trentemøller came along and schooled everyone in 2007 with his compilation album ‘The Trentemøller Chronicles’, which not only contained a first disc of inspired original compositions and productions, but followed up with a second disc of dancefloor remixes, the whole affair is a production mic drop of epic proportions. Is this the best vocal dance remix ever? Maybe. There’s a moment at 6:17 that drives the point home for me, anyway.
Röyksopp - What Else Is There? (Trentemøller Remix)
John Tejada – Asanebo (Original Mix)
I should probably put at least one instrumental track in here for the DJs. John Tejada tells a hypnotic tale with stuttery percussions and eerie, bubbly synth lines, masterfully manipulating atmospherics and grooves to create just the right kind of dancefloor appeal, while keeping the energy restrained enough for an at-home listening experience. Can’t get enough of this track.
John Tejada - Asanebo
Radiohead – Lotus Flower
This song is pure poetry. The textures in the production grabbed me the first time I heard this track off of The King of Limbs album. Each component of the song makes me feel a heartbreaking sort of playfulness.
Radiohead - Lotus Flower
Laura Marling – My Manic & I
I still get shivers every time I hear it. Laura Marling’s steady warm raspy voice draws me completely in – it’s spellbinding. The repetitive guitar hypnotises while she paints a picture of depression and love.
Laura Marling - My Manic & I
The Shivers – Beauty
If someone asked what my favourite song is I’d be hard-pressed to pick another. Its this direct reflection of love, the desire for and the imperfection of. I’ve listened to this song on repeat for hours on solo road trips and I’m yet to get sick of it. We just get one another.
The Shivers - Beauty (Official Audio)
Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
I was introduced to Lauryn Hill in 2002 and I’ve had her album on repeat for 20 years. Her voice is perfection and the lyrics cut deep.
Playlist: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Emiliana Torrini – To Be Free
I first heard this song watching Crazy/Beautiful (2001). This track has real atmosphere. Emiliana Torrini brings you into her world, you can’t help but get lost in the melody and story.
Emiliana Torrini - To Be Free
Artist:Elba Title:Elba EP Label:Metadata Records Release:18th February 2022 Cat No:MDR003 Format:Digital