FARAI: “KISSWELL” EP Review

Written By: Ethan Griggs

My Music: ethangriggsmusic.virb.com

It’s a bit ironic that the newest release by Zimbabwean artist FARAI is listed as electronic in iTunes and on Apple Music because it’s steeped in an overtone that is more alike to bands like New Order than to those like The Knife. You could say her debut EP KISSWELL is an exploration of the melding of post punk and modern electronic music. In a description on her Bandcamp, it is explained that, “We had many variants to explore and many limitations in place and the thesis we concluded upon is documented within the audio manuscript.”

While the singer is the namesake for the project, it’s not entirely her own creation. The production provided by TØNE is razor sharp in its beats and synthesizer tones, but there’s a certain ear candy applied to the sound via an intricate mix of reverberating drum kits and thumping, fuzzy bass lines. The standout track “LION WORRIER” is the representation of this. On the flip side, there is still the dark static of “VAGABOND” which provides a synthetic contrast to the former with its intense vocal manipulation and pulsing, at times atonal electronics.

There is somewhat of a concept to the EP as stated in the aforementioned description: “Accompanied by a comotosed bootstrap Benny in session we forged a message of conflict in the city. The voice of Farai, a Lion Warrior living in and battling life on the streets in the city, everyday guided by the spirit of her late father Kisswell”. The theme is introduced in part on the EP’s first track, “INTRO”: “It’s quite a complex topic because nobody knows what to say or how to approach it. I say love; love is so complex. What is lust? All these things are very complex to me”, she explains in spoken word, before going on to say that she “stands for what she stands for”. The theme is most prominent, though, in “LION WARRIOR”: “I roll with the Hell’s Angels/But I didn’t sell myself on the highway/I’m a warrior”. Her belt of that last word on the track will haunt you in your sleep.

On “Inhale Exhale”, FARAI persuades the listener to “chase the dragon”, another idea indicated in the Bandcamp description. Certainly this song and the rest of the KISSWELL EP will have the listener dreaming up similar fantastical scenarios with its truly left-field blend of post punk and electronic beats.