This debut from Alina Kalancea comes out of a six-year period of experimentation with electronics and voice. Through a series of collaborations, stage performances and studio sessions, the Romanian artist says she has been working to develop a sound she can call her own. In this sense, The 5th Apple is more than just a first recording. It’s a fully realized, 53-minute artistic mission statement.
Along the way, Kalancea has studied with Enrico Cosimi, professor of electronic music at the University of Rome Tor Vergata. She’s also worked with Steven Thomas, a professor of physics at Queen Mary University in London and an artist familiar to BADD PRESS readers, Alex Gámez (a.k.a. Asférico). Gámez runs the Störung label and studio in Barcelona, where The 5th Apple was recorded.
It is a haunting, nuanced, occasionally anxious work. It is primarily, but not exclusively electronic. (We also get a lovely cello contribution by Julia Kent and strings by Raven Bush.) Layered over top of all this sophistication, spoken-word pieces showcase Kalancea as a talented poet.
The album opens with a piece of writing called “Imbalance:”
Tragedies happen on the sly
they slither along the soul and build their nest inside it
they conceal monsters
infernal screams mixed with frightful silences and disturbing cries
every time you get out of it
you are wordless
and hardly pluck up the courage to give out a sound as if you have to come into the world again
and redo the whole journey from start to finish
but you are deranged right from the start
a cruel fate
if it has reason to be
this is how we become real jars full of buried suppressed emotions
this is how we find ourselves exchanging a few banal and meaningless words
while our hands touch each other
at the mercy of an aseptic feeling that we are not able to tear apart…
a gory passion
glare in your eyes and that lump in your throat going up and down
the desire consuming its resources and crushing its own creation
all that pushed inside until reaching the incredible barriers, containing all this awe-inspiring desire and hold it back
our well-known barriers made up of fear
a trivial, worthless revolution
a revolution that increases lives to offer them to death
while this life tends to extend blindly in a wastefulness that is directly proportional to the uselessness of the effort
the more we give, the less we have
imbalance is the only privilege we have
Dark, yes. But this is no gothic pose. Kalancea has produced a deeply relatable work of audio art. While The 5th Apple dropped Dec. 21, for me it is the first great release of the new year.