With a sound that has been compared to the likes of Grimes (the go-to-girl for convenient comparisons du jour) and Dirty Projectors (ditto) the abstract sound collages by Empress Of (aka Lorely Rodriguez) is bound to confuse listeners, as much as it does the maker herself! In a musical climate in which everything is filtered and ground down into a palatable, ready-made meal, a little bit of confusion is a welcome relief!
Originally from Los Angeles, but now calling Brooklyn home, Rodriguez has been making music since she got her first computer at age 17. After having played guitar, keyboards, and singing for several years in a number of different bands, she finally decided to go solo and craft and release her own music.
She first came on to the musical radar with her series of “Colourminutes” which she self-released via YouTube (and which you should take a moment to discover for yoursel). The series started off as a writing exercise Rodriguez assigned to herself out of frustration after a long stretch of not making any of her own music. With an action plan along the lines of the monthly November Nanowrimo, in which would-be-authors commit to writing a novel in a month, she gave herself the operating instructions that she had to write, record, and mix several one-minute songs, only spending within one to two days on each piece.
After she finished fifteen tracks, she decided to give them some structure. With color blocks serving as backgrounds, she uploaded the songs to YouTube, and thus the series was born. She has described them as being a “meditation on the aural and visual sensations at their most very basic.” Think of it along the lines of a musical variation on the works of Mark Rothko or Yves Klein.
Oh yeah, and she claims to be obsessed with Shuggie Otis. It’s all in the details, folks.
“Don’t Tell Me” creates an epic sense of build-up, delivering hazy vocals and diluted beats something along the lines of Tamaryn, fully enveloping the listener in Rodriguez’s astral soundscape.
“Colourminute 1″ instantly captivates with vocal freaky folk elements a la The Milk-Eyed Mender-era Joanna Newsom (former go-to-girl for convenient comparisons du jour), whilst “Colourminute 7″ serves up more a spiky dose of realism, mixing a more grinding peppering of ominousness into the brewing concoction.
These cruel snippets of experimental-alt. pop songs are just enough to whet the palette for a strong début (which is undoubtedly right around the corner). Her style is breezy and inventive, finding a nice place for herself alongside similarly inspired bedroom experimental pop composer, Julia Holter. Unexpected and eloquent in their straightforward spontaneity, 2013 seems like it will bring about big things from this one to keep an eye on in the coming new year.