Single Reviews: 19 June 2023: Oldest Sea, AnnaOtta, Zabelov Group, Josephine, Nil Elses

Photo by Mikhail  Volkov

Oldest Sea - Wolf Dream 


Oldest Sea, founded by Sam Marandola in 2017, started as a personal exploration of folk music's darker side. Now a full band, they blend haunting solo passages with walls of grit and distortion, weaving ambient folk and Americana with elements of doom and post-metal, evoking intense emotions and dream-like illusions. Thier single "Wolf Eyes" is a rather heartwrenching and deeply meditative track, the soothing nature and vocal expressiveness of which land on moments of strange tenderness. 

AnnaOtta - Come to the Light


European musical duo AnnaOtta manipulates their voices with glitchy intrigue on their recent single "Come to the light", taken from the album Such is Life. Comprising singers Irene Novoa from Spain and Jenny Thiele from Germany, the Cologne-based act builds up ruminative synths and textures around their performative vocalizations, expressive and nostalgic pop singing, and experimental production. The atmosphere is decidedly tense, which is not surprising for a group who, according to their bio, "seek to challenge gender stereotypes and to contribute to a different vision of beauty and femininity by promoting errors and using technology to produce extreme and risky sounds." There may be some errors in this hodgepodge assemblage of sounds, but they culminate in an impressively unique and surprising universal sonic expression.  

Zabelov Group - Dive 

jazz fusion

Czechlands-based jazz fusion duo Zabelov Group work from the drums up on their recent single "Dive". In existence since 2012, Zabelov Group features Belarussian accordionist and vocalist Roman Zabelov and Czech drummer, trumpeter, and guitarist Jan ┼áikl. The two deal in impossible-to-not-appreciate and highly deft jazz drumming and melodically exotic structures. The drums are the entry point into a comprehensively mysterious and abstract musical world. The group use repetitive structures to build a diving board upon which they can plunge into the nature of freeform and explorative music. 

Josephine - Sounds Wrong

folk pop

Mononymous indie artist Josephine may hail from the Big Apple, but the vagabond singer-songwriter has traversed the States, spending time in Seattle, Idaho, Florida, Nashville, Vermont, and Pittsburgh, before finally landing on the gold coast of California. It's a fitting place, as Josephine is also a surfer. The waves seem to have imbued her music with emotional swells and gliding dynamics. On "Sounds Wrong", a song from Josephine's new EP, "Lost?", the singer displays deft guitar and vocal skills while connecting with her audience through candid confessionals that never lose their earthy tone. While some listeners may find the commercial melodies and the theme of love mawkish, there's soul and gentleness to Josephine's performance that makes this an enjoyably smooth-sailing affair. 

Nil Elses - Two Squares


"Two Squares", the carefully arranged new single of Seattleite electronic musician Nil Elses, is enriched with controlled synthesizers playing out accessible ostinatos, sonic quirks, and a pulsating rhythmic foundation. From his upcoming EP,  "Quiet Invocations", this track may take a few listens to appreciate, but its unassuming and straightforward nature belies emotive clout.