Little Dragon – Nabuma Rubberband
Little Dragon’s fourth studio LP opens with Mirror. It’s desolate, brooding futurism – echoing drums, a faint menacing buzzing and spacy synthetic keys. It sounds like you’re standing in a cold, empty factory and all the joy is gone – it’s almost sterile – and then front-woman Yukimi Nagano’s voice enters the fray and you suddenly feel like the song is deeply personal; there’s a sorrow there that you wouldn’t have thought could have existed. Nabuma Rubberband operates largely on that level: both darkly futuristic and emotionally rich at the same time.
Sonically Nabuma Rubberband is dripping in reverb. The drums shudder with every echoing thump, basslines groan right in your lower gut, synth stabs linger on that second longer. Nagano’s voice is often doubled and effected: it has the dual quality of sitting both above the music and firmly amidst it. This makes for an indelibly layered and atmospheric record, but things actually work best on the brooding Only One when the arrangements are sparser and Nagano’s voice gets room to breathe.
Single Paris plays like more straight-down-the-line RnB. It’s probably the most upbeat thing here, without the same industrial clangs and fuzzes of the rest of the record. Pink Clouds is slightly out of focus and murky, with Nagano’s voice heavily effected amongst swirling strings and horns. It’s a particular highlight, along with the menacing and chaotic Killing Me.
In essence most of the songs here are RnB tracks. That’s not a necessary detractor, but the dense layers do hide a simpler nature. If there’s a bad thing to say it’s that generally there isn’t actually much experimentation going on in Nabuma Rubberband. Most of the tracks conform to a similar trajectory, with slow, thumping bass drums over distorted, grimy synth. If you’re only half paying attention then you might fool yourself into thinking you’re listening to one album-length song. Still, Nagano keeps things deliciously soulful, and that’s where the fun’s to be had.
Nabuma Rubberband was released on 12th May 2012. For further information or to order the album visit Little Dragon’s website here.
Watch the video for Klapp Klapp here: