A week on from the tragic events of Travis Scott’s Astroworld festival, the still-emerging details maintain a fresh air of intense sadness and shock. At least nine people have died with over 100 left injured, and at least 80 lawsuits have been filed in connection with the event, with questions over how the concert was allowed to continue as people were crushed in the crowd. Our thoughts are with those affected by the tragedy; live music should always be a safe space.
The power of music is a source of joy and liberation; after all, it is that universal feeling that sparks such passionate warmth inside us. It is an escape from the day-to-day, a three-minute moment of happiness that is personal to you, and can be relived again and again and again.
Like most artists, creatives, humans in the past year, pandemic lockdown had us experiencing a far less euphoric take on ‘unified’, and Nilüfer Yanya is another artist who had to come to terms with what that meant for her as a musician. Fresh off the rollout for her acclaimed 2019 debut album Miss Universe and her three song EP Feeling Lucky?, a second album beckoned. Announced this week in tandem with comeback single ‘stabilise’, forthcoming collection PAINLESS teases a more direct side to Nilüfer, whether it be about relationship breakdowns, loneliness or searching for oneself. With Nilüfer saying “It’s a record about emotion,” it sounds a slight more painful than painless.
New outing ‘stabilise’ captures this sense of restless uncertainty and anxiety in the mundane, exacerbated by the claustrophobia of tiny flats and repetition of dead days. “There’s nothing out there / For you and me / I’m going nowhere,” Nilüfer quips, deadpan and matter-of-fact, as if resigned to this fated Groundhog Day; it’s hard to break a cycle when inspiration and reason are thin on the ground.
“I was really thinking about your surroundings and how much they influence or change your perception of things. A lot of the city is just grey and concrete, there’s no escape,” Nilüfer explains. “The video plays on the central theme in the song of no one coming to save you ever. It’s set in the depths of reality in everyday life where we are the only one’s truly capable of salvaging or losing ourselves.”
Nilüfer Yanya – ‘stabilise’
There is a sense of irritant dread to ‘stabilise’; you can feel it in the agitated percussion and fidgety guitar work. Nilüfer’s stoic delivery veers towards emotionless, encapsulating the inner turmoil of needing to do anything but without the urge to start. Coupled with a killer hook and succinctly energetic delivery, it’s the perfect tease of what PAINLESS has to offer.
Mitski – ‘The Only Heartbreaker’
Following in the wake of her own contemplative comeback single ‘Working for the Knife’, Mitski’s new release ‘The Only Heartbreaker’ brings a sonically gleeful delight to the tune of sorrowful introspection. Whilst the track depicts “the designated Bad Guy who gets the blame” in the relationship, it errs towards something sadder, “that maybe the reason you’re always the one making mistakes is because you’re the only one trying”. Set to 80s vigour, rich synths and driving rhythms, it makes for an oxymoronic juxtaposition.
Shamir – ‘Cisgender’
Shamir is an artist with an uncompromising vision and a deft execution that makes his work all the more exciting. Previous outing ‘Gay Agenda’ was a darkly glitchy ode to radical acceptance, and as hard hitting and atmospheric as one would expect. New single ‘Cisgender’ twists the tack with gurning, shoegaze-influenced guitar work and bombastic drums; the track swells and grows to the tone of ANOHNI, whilst Shamir’s ever dextrous voice stretches for the echelons. The track and upcoming album Heterosexuality both see Shamir “acknowledging the actual trauma that I do feel on almost a daily basis”.
Fana Hues – ‘Pieces’
Immersive and intoxicating, ‘Pieces’ sees Fana Hues at her smooth and sultry best. The new single from the Tyler, the Creator collaborator catches a lackadaisical groove with its dawdling bassline, smatterings of brass imbuing the track with a classy undertone. Following in the wake of her 2020 project Hues, which saw her explore the vulnerability and emotion often denied to Black women by society, ‘Pieces’ similarly muses on the consequences of such vulnerability in moments of hurt.
Yuné Pinku – ‘Laylo’
Upping the ante is Yuné Pinku. The 18 year old Malaysian-Irish producer cranks up the BPM on new outing ‘Laylo’ with skittish hi-hats, playful rhythms and acid house-influenced production for a trip back to the 90s. Hard, fast and fun, it captures the human desire for interaction amidst Yuné’s blasé murmurs; as debut singles go, it’s a treat.