Diva - Moon Moods
LA-based Diva is offering us her view of an electro-utopia.
The soundscape is sparse but varied; a mind-expanding trip through minimalist House, electro pop and super-sweet hippy-dippy harmonies. So completely formed is this view that it covers everything from the occult to everyday human-robot love affairs.
Opener 'Wanna Get to Know You' is an '80s chill track with almost Oriental cascades behind the shimmering, delicate vocal line, the languid beat fading in and out. But from being relaxed we're taken in an altogether different direction. A harder edge creeps in and we get industrial-strength disco. 'Cyborg Sweetie' is a definite highlight of the album - a cosmic tango with laser shot back beats and a La Roux-style vocal. Sublime, addictive, stand-out fare.
Diva strips back the sound on other tracks - spectral vocal lines set against minimal beats and synth melodies. With 'Smooth Ride' we also get '90s breakbeats and classic dance vocals with more of those cosmic lyrics tripping over the melody before sax players Liz Armstrong and Zumi Rosow provide the ultimate smooth jam for the track.
The album peaks again with 'Teardrops in the Purple Dimension'. A velveteen vocal swirls around psychedelic auto-harp (played by Diva's father Bauhaus drummer Kevin Haskins). This is floating in space - weightless, dark and at once infinite, vast and yet claustrophobically airless.
In the opening beats of title-track 'Moon Moods' there is the ghost of Joy Division's 'Atmosphere'. A perfect example of why this album needs to be on repeat play to really seep under the skin, slide through the vein's and take full effect - these glorious and unexpected little details just won't hit on first listen.
'Lonely Drive' strays away from the rest of the album - strings, country-esque guitar, the sound of waves and a swaggering vocal. This is moment between intoxication and melancholy heavy-headedness and the dawn fades up. It's an indication, if nothing else, of the musical genres Diva is intent on exploring - if not on this album then on future releases.
Album closer 'Avocado Afternoon' takes the sparse-electro formula by the neck and holds it underwater until the struggling stops; taking Diva's vocal to a darker place by slowing and deepening. While the melody may have the same smooth, electro ambience of the rest of the album it leaves you with a sinister chill running down the spine.
There is an element of staging to this sound though. It may have started off as lo-fi recordings on an 8-track, but in cleaning up and bringing them into the digital realm it feels as if the spark that sets the quirkiness alight has been shined away in parts.
Still, this is a deceptively vast sounding album made up of layer upon layer of deliciously dark electro.