Five on it: Amber Mark’s gorgeous debut album will take you to other dimensions
Amber Mark explores her insecurities while also looking outward and galactic. Plus new music from Cariss Auburn, yunè pinku, and much-anticipated collaborations between Charli XCX and Rina, and Shenseea and Megan Thee Stallion.
28 Jan 2022
US singer, songwriter and producer Amber Mark has had her resolve tested in many ways on her journey as an artist. This began back in 2017 with her EP 3:33am and was followed pretty swiftly with her second, 2018’s Conexão. But after that was a hot minute, succeeded by another hot minute; four hot minutes if we’re equating them to years, and as we well know, years in the music world can equate to lifetimes.
A period of experimentation followed, and as with many artists, the enforced lockdown period proved as much of a creative blessing as it did a curse. Amber left her own mark by dabbling in covers, some of which were especially inspired: a melancholy and pulsing rendition of Nirvana’s ‘Heart Shaped Box’, or a tropical turn of Sisqo’s 2000 classic, ‘Thong Song’. Last year began a slew of six singles, including ‘Foreign Things’ and ‘Softly’, that made it clear that, not only was her sabbatical over but Amber was reinvigorated and raring to go.
“For Amber Mark, exploration of the human disposition is akin to an otherworldly dalliance between the stars”
Three Dimensions Deep is not only an exploration of her own insecurities, but Amber’s fantastical expedition of other worlds – both theoretical and galactical. Finding fascination in quantum and theoretical physics and how “it gives evidence to the belief that there is something bigger than us out there”, Amber takes solace in the potential for possibility and applies it to her daily life. It is this yearning nature nurtured by a spiritual upbringing with her German mother – whose passing is reflected in Amber’s earliest work – and a keenly observant disposition that imbues all she creates, such as the supernatural, laser beam eyes deployed in her stylish video for ‘Work It’.
Split into three acts – ‘Without’, ‘Withheld’ and ‘Within’ – Three Dimensions Deep traverses Amber’s inner world as she tackles her fears (“Trying to see where life leads / Anxiety all of me keeps me up at night” on ‘One’) to find acceptance (“I’m feeling good, I don’t need closure”, on ‘Bubbles’), contentment, and a sturdier self-esteem. Her dalliances in love follow a similar pattern, from the push-and-pull uncertainty of ‘Most Men’ through to ‘Softly’, which sees Amber raise her standards through plush guitar work and cashmere-soft smoothness.
It is worth pointing out that Amber’s quest for enlightenment via her love of science fiction is one of few and far between examples in art, be it music or otherwise. Historically, women of colour have often been excluded from the world of SF, uncelebrated and oft-forgotten. Janelle Monáe is an obvious example of an artist who has brought her love of sci-fi to the mainstream through flawless music and a striking aesthetic. With Three Dimensions Deep, Amber is making her own fearless moves into the same space; for Amber, exploration of the human disposition is akin to an otherworldly dalliance between the stars.
Amber Mark – ‘Bliss’
The lead single from Three Dimensions Deep, ‘Bliss’ is a statement of celebration for Amber Mark. ‘Bliss’ feels satisfying for Amber, winding in elements of funk and soul for a track that is not simply euphoric but, more importantly, content.
Charli XCX and Rina Sawayama – ‘Beg For You’
Everybody loves a club banger and, apparently, so does Charli XCX. Dipping into a generous sample of September’s iconic one-hit wonder ‘Cry For You’, new single ‘Beg For You’ dials down the high octane dance stomp in favour of a more chilled flavour. The collab with bestie Rina Sawayama, which was teased last week over on Instagram, taps into millennial UK garage for a moment both sentimental and unexpected.
Shenseea – ‘Lick’ (with Megan Thee Stallion)
Making waves in her native Jamaica, Shenseea is one of a rising group of women shaking up the world of dancehall and – more recently – honing in on the charts. She even recently featured on Kanye’s Donda. ‘Lick’, her addictive new collab with Megan Thee Stallion, is the perfect way to get acquainted: think big club hooks, bouncy bass and sexually liberated, X-rated lyrics.
Cariss Auburn – ‘Fantasy’
It’s barely been a minute since she released her EP Refraction, but Cariss Auburn is back with her first bit for 2022. New single ‘Fantasy’ is as smooth and dreamy as we’ve come to expect from her recent hits ‘Float’ and ‘Daydream’, and she continues to utilise her love of y2k-inflected pop and R&B here. Conjuring summertime machinations and emancipating melodies, it’s as sweet as they come.
yunè pinku – ‘Affection’
Kicking off 2022 strong with the announcement of her forthcoming debut EP Bluff, yunè pinku is setting herself as one to watch when it comes to electronic music. Drawing from the likes of acid house and garage whilst mixing in murky, otherworldly incantations, new single ‘Affection’ is a tantalising trip that traverses the void of reality. In yunè’s own words, as per the single’s press release: “Affection is about all the work we put in to get the attention of a crowd or a person but feeling dissatisfied when you get it”.