Ami Dang, "In Auspices"

City Paper

(Self-Released)

The flustered breathlessness that’s greeted FKA twigs’ “LP1” is enough to make you think Tricky isn’t still active. Not hating—twigs’ ‘Two Weeks’ simmers with as much combustible lust as anything off “Maxinquaye”—but her glitch-pitched rhythms and vocal anomie can sound like a perfectly timed union of Lana Del Ray and Martina Topley-Bird wrapped in the kind of negative-space production that’s making down-tempo R&B one of the more sonically gloomy regions in pop right now. 

A more novel take on how mere rhythm and voice can spark an ocean of moods can be found on Ami Dang’s recent five-song EP. The songs here sound like little more than the sitar loops, minimal drum patterns, occasional synth tone, and Dang’s multi-tracked voice found on her 2011 debut “Hukam,” but the combination of those components feels more seamlessly streamlined, and the result is instantly hooky and singularly pop. 

It helps that Dang has quickened her layering pace. Where a few “Hukam” songs lingered past the five-minute mark, nothing on “In Auspices” drifts past four and a half, and they get to Dang’s melding of sitar, electronics, and voice right off the bat. An exhale of beats and voice breathes ‘Arrange It’ to life as a seductive whorl, equal parts dream pop and far-left-field R&B. ‘Need to Fall’ brazenly marries a sinewy sitar line to a nearly Big Black-insistent drum-machine pattern to yield a woozy dollop of ear candy. ‘Kissed by the Fire’ is Dang’s most dance-floor-ready song to date, with its slyly skittish beat, its synth baseline, and Dang’s vocal melody that circles around the groove like a house-track hook. That DJs probably aren’t crate-digging Bandcamp for South Asian-inflected avant-pop for 6 a.m. come-down jams is their loss. 

 

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