Published Feb 11, 2020Leaping into existence with an a cappella reading of Lucille Clifton's poem "Won't You Celebrate With Me," experimental R&B artist MHYSA's sophomore full-length effort promises to be as influential as it is a tapestry woven from the artist's influences. Created as "a prayer for Black women and femmes to be taken to or find a new and better world away from the apocalypse," NEVAEH ruminates on sexuality ("Before the World Ends") and references Black culture (two lovely renditions of "When the Saints"). It is also a captivating genre-bending exercise in controlled experimentation.
There are many moments when MHYSA's vocals are laid bare, augmented only by the delicate mist of reverb or the subtle deployment of echo. At other times, blown-out clouds of noise all but obliterate any discernable vocalizations. And then there are tracks like "Float," where reversed organ chords are played at various speeds in an eclectic array of layers, resembling a mid-20th century magnetic tape experiment.
One of the more conventional moments is the rhythmic "w/ me," in which the artist croons gorgeously about self care over a loping drum machine rhythm. "Sanaa Lathan" is cleverly rhythmic, with staccato piano stabs and MHYSA's own vocal patterns. Chirping crickets and squealing radio waves fill in the spaces that club beats might have occupied if the track had been crafted by less creative hands.
The artist's seemingly unlimited reservoir of imagination and talent have allowed them to fuse years of musical tradition into a wholly singular sensibility encapsulated in these 18 finely hewn tracks. (Hyperdub)