Long term readers know I love a bit of a mismatched genre mash-up and Silla and Rise fit that description perfectly. Silla are two Inuit throat singers. Rise is a musician/producer who mixes European electronica, world beats and rapper elements together. Chuck that in a melting pot and you have a genuinely surprising and unusual experience.
‘Galactic Gala’ is the trio’s second album after their superb debut album and its seen them expand their sound palette beyond putting a dance beat to the rhythmic throat singers. Here we have guest rappers in ‘Sunrise ft Jah’kota’ and ‘Matriarchs ft Kelly Fraser’ and modern RnB pop with ‘Quimmiq Amaruq – Wolf Dog ft LB’. With ‘Matriarchs’ then even use the panpipe like an MLG siren. It’s genius, bold and bordering on comedic at times. The reason for the comedy is that sometimes the music production leans heavily into the early 90s. Hearing Eurobeat pianos, drum machines and woke rappers mixing up intense throat singing and MLG panpipes can throw you off. I can’t decide if I’m just purely entertained or if I genuinely love it.
What I do absolutely love is when that edginess is placed on Silla – putting them front and centre. Cynthia and Charlotte have such an expressive range and they are layered upon over and over again to create a choir of themselves. Songs like ‘Brazilian Kitturiaq’, ‘Shaolinuk’, ‘On the Spot’ and ‘Sweet’ really push the heavy beats, heavy throats and thick Inuit or Aboriginal instrument samples. It works so well and feels fresh without ever feeling cheesy. It is what their debut album revolved around and it still sounds stunning and evocative. Throat singing feels so primal and dark and everything Rise does here backs that up.
Galactic Gala also has a penchant for spoken word over the singers too. The title track is a reggae party track full of giggles and synths where Silla purrs the title over and over. ‘Mother Roots’ feels more like a new age dance performance with the echoing mantra spoken over the thick bass and hushed percussive throat singing. ‘Quallupilluk’ sounds closer to early Bjork and much of the electronica side of the album mirrors her ‘Debut’ albums sound. There is just one ballad – if you could call it that – and its the closer ‘Overview Effect’. Silla growl and purr like underworld beasts slowly over a meditative synth pad. It is a unique experience for anyone new to throat singing but also feels quite cathartic to listen to.
Silla and Rise have an absolutely unique sound and part of the fun is experiencing it unfolding for the first time. Initially, you’ll be perplexed or swing from amazement to bafflement from track to track. As I’ve listened to it repeatedly though, ‘Galactica Gala’ merges into a brilliant body of work. It challenges, switches up and gets you down and dirty with throat singing in a way I’ve never experienced. I’ve never thought to bring out Inuit throat singing for a reggae party piece but now I’ve heard it and its beautiful. An album to open the ears and the eyes.
Recommended track: Brazilian Kitturiaq
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