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Cornelia – “Balun” Review

Experimental electronica makes for a fantastic début

Cornelia is a difficult one to pigeon. Her music wildly flips across the whole gambit of electronica and it’s the experimental side that really drew me in. “Balun” falls somewhere between EP and album. Seven tracks, 25 minutes and a whole lot of eargasm.

Opening with “How Far Pt.1” we have Cornelia’s angelic and crisp voice cut across an increasingly vibrant synth wave line that rotates around a single riff throughout. It’s meditative. It’s psychedelic. It’s transcending. It’s amazing. For a single riff to be manipulated in various ways is artsy and catchy – the best kind really. “Cruising” takes a darker and danker look on things. The low, grainy keyboard synths humm and buzz with a gentle drum loop giving beats and pace, but also a touch of filth to proceedings. Cornelia’s voice is processed in a way that makes her thin, whispery, lacking depth and slightly like a computerised stalker! “Birthright” takes the melodic side of the last two tracks and pushes them into a more metallic synth world. It feels quite 80’s in many ways, but using new technology to process weird percussive beats. I like the way how it feels like lots of old computer sound effects have been woven together to create the track.

“Not In Love” is the big radio hit in waiting. Pushing huge drum beats, great catchy chorus’ and still spinning her own unique sound and style, it feels like this is the breakout single that is needed to be pushed. It’s the easiest place to start and definitely one worth singing along to on the dance floors. Sassy and fun. “Oh Well” showcases a more lounge jazz side of Cornelia. The organic drums sided with bossa nova styled keyboards allows weird synths to breathe and the luscious voice our lady really take centre stage. Much like the opening track, knowing when to strip things back or layer them on in the production is one of the strengths of delivering the amount of emotion that Balun does. It reminds me of Bjork’s “Venus As A Boy” in the way it mixes things up even though they sound very different. “Trust” was my introduction to Cornelia and serves as a projectile track that shows offbeat use of drum loops, samples, keyboards and vocal delivery. It’s a true representation of the artistic side of the album and chances are if you dig this, you’ll love everything else here. The collection closes with “How Far Pt.2!” which takes the same track and completely transforms it from a singular modulation into a chanting, hand clapping, heavy bass driven synth anthem.

Balun is such a curious piece. I feel like it’s too short to be an album and I wish there were more tracks to enjoy. However, what is here is of such an undeniably high quality, once it’s over I want to hit play again. The convergence of just enough experimental vision with pop overtones makes for a heady concoction and we are now big Cornelia fans!

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