Lounge Pop perfection with a French twist…
Nekomata marks the debut release of French producers (and brothers) Supernaive. Recorded between Paris and Tokyo, the album weaves together elements of electronica, RnB, hip hop and French Touch. There’s also some Japanese cultural references thrown into the mix which offers a chemistry that leaves a sophisticated, stylish album as a result.
Part of the allure of Supernaive is the deliberate attempt at (literally) masking their appearance. Adopting Japanese Noh masks, the pair invite listeners to project their own ideas onto the strangely static visage that they present.
As an album, Nekomata is certainly an unusual musical journey which seems to change gears between each track, employing different vocalists to constantly subvert expectations. Analogue synths battle with samples and breakbeat percussion across thirteen compositions that dart between musical genres.
Opening track ‘Introduction’, as an example, offers an evocative slice of electronica that seems reminiscent of Air. A brief but scintillating arrangement of crystal synth sounds that have a fragile beauty to them.
‘Summer Haze’ (feat. Untapped) is smoothly produced slice of RnB flavoured electronica. Similarly, ‘Apart’ (feat. Eli D Duke) tread similar ground with its airy rhythms and skittering percussion.
‘Warrior’, featuring Carmeline on vocal duties, is a slow-burning, brooding number that offers up one of Nekomata’s best moments. The various layers of warm synths, groove-laden rhythms and Carmeline’s quick fire vocal delivery oozes style across an epic composition.
‘Taking Over’ owes more to noughties hip hop, featuring the sultry voice of Nal on a swish number that shows off some inspired production and arrangement. Apparently, a bell sample utilised in the track was taken from striking a broken buoy the pair found on a beach in Iceland and took back to their Paris studio.
Mal also features on ‘Under Control’, which is simply gorgeous lounge pop perfection. The lush synth foundations provide a perfect accompaniment to Nal’s passionate vocal delivery, along with some engaging treated voice effects.
Meanwhile, the album’s title track is a perky slice of hip hop featuring the vocal talents of Lonher. Prior to the writing of the album, Supernaive explained to Lonher about the origins of the album’s title. Nekomatas are shape-shifting creatures from Japanese folklore that scare people. Apparently, Lonher took this theme to heart and introduced her own nekomatas into the lyrics, although in this case it was “jerks and unfaithful guys”.
Elsewhere, there’s a more breezy moment on ‘Lighter Light’ (feat. Conference Of The Birds), while ‘Running Nowhere Fast’ offers up an immersive electronic ambiance.
The album closes out with sampled Japanese dialogue on ‘Tadaima’ which has a strange, nostalgic vibe in its quirky, warm synth arrangements.
Supernaive’s debut album will likely appeal to those who like more of an RnB element to their electronic music, but ultimately Nekomata is an effective lounge pop outing that offers style and polish.
Nekomata is out now.