Kelela - Hallucinogen
Versatile riffs
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Slow and steady, Kelela gently lays down ‘A Message to an inattentive partner in a reflection of their neglectful relationship. This is how she opens her newly released six-track EP, Hallucinogen. 

I first came across this gal back in 2013, when I heard ‘Bank Head’ from her debut, Cut 4 Me EP. This track had me jumping around and singing along as if I had known it forever. Her vocal succulency alongside Fade to Mind label producer, Kingdom’s delectable riddims manage to produce a sonic embodiment of the smell of fresh bread. Or the smell of fresh laundry. Something that instantly feels so familiar. That’s how Kelela draws you in, wrapping every single word around you, until you catch yourself wearing her heart on your sleeve.

The EP, released on 9th October, saw its second lead track, ‘Rewind’, co-produced by Kingdom. Genre-blending, she capers through a pop stencil on this track, to a DJ Dahi production on ‘All The Way Down’, as she collaborates with the ‘Money Trees’ producer for the second time. Kelela glides through Hallucinogen with a similar level of grace and innovation as her experimental peer FKA twigs and the delicate agility of the late Aaliyah throughout her slick, versatile riffs.

She fully levers herself into the sensation of being on a hallucinogen by the time we reach the title track, filling us with Imogen Heap-esque warped vocals, cluttered with abstract, nerve-wracking sounds.

Kelela owns every part of her vulnerability and intertwines it with a perfect balance of sensuality. Somehow, she takes elements of electronic music such as edgy synths, merges it with a riff-filled storytelling nature of R&B (without the bait commercial sound) and creates a blend which enters a brand new territory altogether. In this way, Kelela manages to balance her sound, and make it palatable for those who wouldn’t necessarily listen to R&B. The combination of these elements enter a very British experimental sound, drawing inspiration from Grime’s sub genre ‘R’n’G’ which is why her previous work with Night Slugs’ Bok Bok makes so much sense.

Kelela’s EP is out now. Londoners – catch her EP release party tonight at The Nest for a fiver.