Review

Pose Dia

Simulate Yourself

R.i.O. • 2023

In Hamburg, they do pop differently, enriching it with quirky ideas and trace elements of far-flung genres. On her second album as Pose Dia, Helena Ratka sings about the »centre of the turning point« and that describes her musical approach on a programmatic level: these nine pieces are about to make a hard turn, destination leftfield—but they haven’t quite arrived yet, are still moving through the confines of the song. This is only fitting for an album whose title, »Simulate Yourself,« conjures up contemporary notions of identitarian chaos in equal measure as it picks up on a theoretical tradition of thinkers of the postmodern condition (Baudrillard, anyone?). Right down to the dark, smoky vocals, Ratka’s work as a solo artist shows some overlaps with the music she produces together with Sophia Kennedy as Shari Vari, but at the same time it is influenced by the club contexts through which she moves as a DJ: here and there, she injects the pieces with elements of electro, IDM or rave music as they are gladly appreciated in her spiritual home base, the Golden Pudel club in Hamburg, and they are also marked by an aesthetic that is clearly indebted to the minimal wave movement. Unlike many of her contemporaries then, Ratka does not make the world of simulations and simulacra sound hyperglossy, but creates cold-metallic structures with porous surfaces—everything feels lo-fi, low-res, and low on spirit. This would be tantamount to an understatement if Ratka didn’t move through this cyberpunk soundscape swearing, screaming and sometimes audibly suffering as a singer. The song is still at the core of these tracks, and Ratke becomes increasingly more direct and unfiltered in the course of »Simulate Yourself,« slowly unfolding culture and its discontent with dramaturgical cunningness.