Review

Jessy Lanza

Oh No

Hyperdub • 2016

Snogging-salivation, droplets of precum, vaginal secretion,»Waterfalls« R’n’B is a moist genre. Therefore, from the beginning it seemed extraordinary, that the Canadian Jessy Lanza together with FKA Twigs (»Water Me«) and Kelela (»Water works so easy«) got pigeon-holed under this not very sturdy label Future R’n’B. Thereby Lanza’s sound is as dry as a bone even though from time to time she does her best singing so fervently on top of it. Her second album »Oh No« is at least as reference rich as the 2013 published debut work »Pull My Hair Back« and even somewhat more minimalistic. Jessy Lanza creates with her music so much water action, that the record even has its own slipstream – in which a variety of music styles are swallowed up in. The stylistic spectrum is full of references from the Yellow Magic Orchestra to new Disco concepts through to Footwork. On the first one she directly addresses, the second is partially down to the regular exchange with Junior Boy Jeremy Greenspan and the third she already announced the previous year with the overwhelming maxi »You Never Show Your Love« which also features DJ Spinn and Taso from the Teklife crew. As a whole »Oh No« sounds essentially like an artist, who is stripped down to the bare essentials – admittedly her own. Regardless of whether »It Means I Love You« is flickering in-between claustrophobic non-sounds and the most complex IDM cough syrup, »VV Violence« is a Hi-NRGetic shaker or »Could Be U« is an elegiac closing ballad; Where nothing is too much, everything is at its right place in this best part of forty minutes. The excess however takes place elsewhere; in the lyrics. In the same way Lanza works her fleet of synthesisers and drum machines, alternating between the tempi and keys, she also diversely modulates her voice. The mode alone in which she sings in and especially the things she sings about stay true to themselves; »Oh No« is a pure devotion. A promise of love in all its facets, whether as a shaky nervousness (»Going Somewhere«), a sovereign resignation (»Never Enough«) or a desperate desire (»It Means I Love You«). This on one hand maybe invokes known R’n’B tropes, on the other hand the idea is in opposition to its liquefied, cynical love economy. For Jessy Lanza however it means all or nothing – and at the same time her music allows everything to collide with nothing. This makes »Oh No« next to LUHs »Spiritual Songs For Lovers To Sing« one of the most radical albums of the last months. May it also sound dry at the first instance.