Operatic vocals. Pulsing synthesizers. Swelling strings. Stereotypical dubstep wah-wahs. All are present on Emika’s sophomore album Dva. The Berlin-via-Bristol artist’s offering is as dark as it is danceable, despite it being a fairly downtempo affair. The album begins with the track “Young Minds,” a song drenched in synthy horns, driving drums, and epic delayed vocals. The same can be said about following track “She Beats,” yet the two songs are done in very different ways. Whereas the former can be seen as more of a upbeat affair, the latter is more of a walk through the proverbial electronic marsh, with it’s humming lows and reversed vocals. Things then take a turn on “Filters,” a song with washy, atmospheric piano reminiscent of Radiohead’s more recent catalogue; a song that sounds like it could have been a classic blues song if written several decades ago.
Other album highlights include an amazing cover of Chris Isaak’s classic “Wicked Game,” here re-imagined using distant pianos, glowing synth pads, near-inaudible vocals drenched in reverb and delay, and simple, effective drum beats. The Kate Bush-inspired “Primary Colours,” with its touching violin and swelling strings, makes for a delightful, relaxing tune. At a running time of over an hour, however, the album suffers from what most albums of that length tend to do. Despite Emika’s ability to alter sounds and noises in a variety of different ways, the latter half of Dva is filled with the sense that you’ve already heard it before. However, the songs are interesting enough it listen to them at random, making for a good electronic addition to your MP3 player if you like to shuffle your songs. (Ninja Tune, ninjatune.net) Dave Guenette