Album of the Week: Kelela - Raven | 2023 Week 6
Kelela hones in on her unique brand of alternative r&b meets underground dance floor production + new records from Flume, CIVIC, Hope D, Black Belt Eagle Scout and more
American artist Kelela burst on to the scene with her debut mixtape Cut 4 Me out on the influential, forward thinking Fade To Mind imprint, featuring production from the likes of Kingdom, Jam City, Girl Unit, Bok Bok and more providing futuristic beats to Kelela’s vox.
The following year saw her unforgettable feature on Bok Bok’s 2014 anthem Melba’s Call. With a unique, silky and silvery voice, Kelela’s vocals were the perfect match for Bok Bok’s angular experimental UK Bass music production, putting her on radars worldwide.
2017 saw the release of her landmark debut album, Take Me Apart, and now six long years later she’s back on the legendary Warp Records once again, with her stunning new album of soulful, alternative r&b meets underground club productions, Raven.
Raven once again sees Kelela teaming up with some of the most innovative producers in the current dance music landscape, including the likes of LSDXOXO, Kaytranada and AceMo all contributing to the record’s synth-focused productions that cover all manner of styles and tempos.
Dripping with atmospheric pads and chords, Raven seamlessly and cohesively chops and changes between breaks, afrobeats, 808 heavy downtempo, four to the floor house and a few ambient synth compositions, all the while keeping Kelela’s angelic, ethereal voice the star of the show.
On her new album Kelela says “I started this process from the feeling of isolation and alienation I’ve always had as a black femme in dance music, despite its black origins. RAVEN is my first breath taken in the dark, an affirmation of black femme perspective in the midst of systemic erasure and the sound of our vulnerability turned to power”.
Vulnerability turning to power never sounded so good!
Kelela’s new album Raven is out now via Warp Records
The best of the rest of this week's records:
Andy Shauf - Norm [Anti] CAN
Baby Cool - Earthling On The Road To Self Love [Virgin Music Australia] AUS
Black Belt Eagle Scout - The Land, The Water, The Sky [Saddle Creek] USA
CIVIC - Taken By Force [Cooking Vinyl Australia] AUS
Flume - Things Don't Always Go The Way You Plan [Future Classic] AUS
Hope D - Clash of the Substance [Independent] AUS
Indie / Pop
Quasi - Breaking the Balls of History [Sub Pop] ENG
Yo La Tengo - This Stupid World [Matador Records] USA