Every once in a while - and it's not as often as you think, nor as often as it should be - an artist emerges with a statement of intent, a sensibility and a voice that resemble very little to the existing state of the art. Ears take it in, feet involuntarily tap, interest is aroused.

If Frida Kahlo was alive today (granted, she'd be 107) and decided to undertake a subvertopop video-musical project, it would in all likelihood be something along the lines of Tahliah Barnett's FKA twigs. Take the most obscure audio and visual moments of Björk's Post and Medúlla, put them in a blender with early Bristol trip-hop quirks, add a dash of Jonna Lee and Claes Björklund's iamamiwhoami preludes and finish off with the finesse of Dev Hynes and you get close to a very basic description of what FKA twigs sounds like.

But then again, reading back over that salad of possible influences, it seems lazy and implies that the FKA twigs endeavour is in some way derivative. Which is the one thing it most definitely isn't. What the sound comes across as is that of a musician who has locked herself in a secluded room where cellular reception is non-existent, an internet connection is blocked and there is no music on her phone or videos she can watch on a television or laptop. She is, therefore, unable to absorb any artistic stimulation from the outside world and, so, she goes about making something out of nothing, from scratch.

And, yes, of course that's all bollocks because, in reality, all the stuff she'd been exposed to prior to entering said creative chamber would obviously still remain in her mind's ear and eye and inform her subsequent output, but it's as though our musician has made a conscious decision to recoil as much as possible from those pre-existing artistic dos-and-don'ts and try something new that sits right with what she feels and what she wants to say.

We mentioned iamamiwhoami earlier and although, sonically, the Swedes' electro thumps are mostly very different to FKA twigs' landmarks like 'Hide', 'Weak Spot', 'Water Me' and latest dazzler, 'Two Weeks', the focus, drive and overall feel of the two projects have some common ground. Not unlike Lee and Björklund, who let the music and the accompanying iamamiwhoami visuals do most the talking, Barnett's interview quota is low and the only thing ubiquitous about her is the praise and admiration for her work from both critics and fans.

The choice to let people make whatever they will of lyrics and visuals (rather than explaining everything in fine detail) and the reluctance to reveal too much of one's personal biography can sometimes reek of PR positioning and cynical/deliberate creation of an air of mystery. In the case of FKA twigs, however, we are sensing that she couldn't give two shits either way. She'd just rather make use of the time to write and record more music or simply hang out with her mates. There's a lot to be said for letting the listener interpret what they see and hear in line with their own views and feelings - it lends the "product" greater appeal and encourages rather than diminishes accessibility, whatever your thoughts may be on how catchy or hooky some of the music is.

And as for that music and where it fits, FKA twigs - as an entity - defies exact categorisation. Where structure helps make sense of the world, that structure is often stripped and turned on its head. Where a certain line sounds like it could be chorus-worthy by way of being repeated, it is likely to get abandoned in the song's latter part, leaving you with a taste for more and a curiosity as to how its absence is compensated for by something entirely 'else'. The slow-burn of a song's development may, at times, lead to nothing more - just when you think things are about to kick off the track will be over. It's not wilfulness, it's just how it is. Instant gratification is for the impatient.

But, hey, it's not as though you can't expect a tune or a good melody - take, 'Ache', for example: it's one of twigs' most straight-forward compositions and has a traditional-of-sorts verse/chorus formation:

Above it all presides that tantalising voice, at points breathy and caressing, at other junctures skewed by effects and noises. And the beats! Ah, the beats that make it impossible not to want to move in some way or another; anything but stay in one place. They suck you in, they grind, they pulsate and convulse.

You will have, no doubt, seen us raving about the two videos Barnett put out in the past few weeks. The first, 'tw-Ache', created with Tom Beard, is a can't-take-your-eyes-off-the-screen dance chaperone to the predominantly instrumental non-album track. The second is for new single, 'Two Weeks', to which Nabil has given an epic treatment, borrowing the idea of Marco Brambilla's promo for Kanye West's 'Power' and slowing it down even further. The results are stunning, as is the song itself.

If you're thirsty for more biographical 411, Wikipedia is - as usual - happy help. But, seriously, what you really need to know is the stuff you'll discover for yourself from the treasures sitting in EP1, EP2 and, later on this summer, debut album LP1, which XL imprint Young Turks is releasing in August.

Gush over and out.

Image courtesy of Brea Anderson.