Kalulu - Featuring (EP Review)

Rotterdam-based artist Marinka Stam established the musical project Kalulu in 2016. Since then, she has collaborated with other artists to make divine electronic pop that neither gets too commercial nor too obscure. Instead, Stam's music bounces along with an alluringly intellectual gait, underpinned by thoughtful production and polished songwriting. Her recent EP, Featuring, is chock full of impressive feats of emotive city pop. Stam's soulful voice is chopped up and stretched across mixes which sway from electro to ambient passages. In addition, Stam delivers inventive lyrics, like on the glitchy opening track, "When Everything Falls", where she details acts of bodily harm before contrasting them with getting her bangs cut.

The five tracks on Featuring welcome three collaborators. Holyoke brings their ultra-modern production sensibilities to "When Everything Falls", though their second effort, the muddled "Videodisks", is less convincing, with an uneconomical mix, confused narrative, and relatively lacklustre vocal performance that not even the exciting production trickery can salvage. More effectively, the minimal approach of "I Bought You Flowers" grows from an odd amalgam of lo-fi-study-beats and dubstep to the softly aching neoclassical touches of Leon den Englesen. These moods are sequenced arbitrarily, though they lend a kaleidoscopic feel to the collection. Stam's vocals have a crystalline quality, not only precise but layered. Her collaborations with Wannes Salomé, "Slow-Mo", and "Comfort" bring this quality out, her words effective even when sung along acidic and tapestried electronic. "Slow-Mo" brings a much-appreciated sense of fun to the collection.  

Featuring by Kalulu is a pleasant foray into experimental and confessional electronic pop. Even if its edges sometimes feel rough and dull, it makes an impression with interesting lyrics, labile electronic compositions, and a devil-may-care attitude led by an exploratory nature and collaborative spirit.