Review

Antonina Nowacka

Sylphine Soporifera

Mondoj • 2024

True mysticism is always rooted in material reality. No other musician quite manages to illustrate this as well as singer Antonina Nowacka. The WIDT member’s recent solo albums as well her collaboration with Sofie Birch in 2022 found ways to abstract the concrete by venturing into a call-a-response dialogue with the Earth—most strikingly of course on 2021’s »Vocal Sketches from Oaxaca«—during which something third seemed to always emerge. »Sylphine Soporifera« is the Polish vocal artist’s second album for the ever-trustworthy Mondoj since her debut album proper, »Lamanun,« and sees her vastly expand her sonic palette by adding organ, zither, harp, and ocarina sounds as well as synthesizers herself as well as other instruments played by Oskar Karski and Catia Lanfranchi.

The focus still lies squarely on the voice though, with Nowacka’s wordless intonations and their resonance with the subdued music that sounds very new age-y, at times having a Fourth World-ish feel; a sort of mostly acoustic forest dungeon synth, if you will. It gives Nowacka’s manifold musical interests and her unconventional vocal techniques even more opportunities to really shine through than on her earlier albums’ heavy use of natural reverb and make her performance feel more tangible than ever before—which means that »Sylphine Soporifera« shows Nowacka at her most mystical, both unapologetically there and somewhere beyond.