Room for the Moon
No map is a match for Kate NV. On her third album, the Moscow electronic musician shreds conventional geographical boundaries, leaving border fences splintered in the rearview. Her music is, very roughly speaking, a mixture of Japanese city pop and the sort of avant-disco that used to soundtrack downtown New York spots like the Mudd Club. The synths and marimba are straight out of ’80s Tokyo; the sumptuous production and dubbed-out vocals suggest ZE Records artists like Cristina; the layered horns might as well be those of session players from Arthur Russell’s orbit. We haven’t even touched upon her singing, which flits between French, English, and Russian as she juggles experimental vocal techniques with the breathy sighs of dream pop. For all their idiosyncrasies, these songs have a way of sinking into your psyche. “Not Not Not” smooths its staccato phrasing into a form lilting and hypnotic; “Sayonara” smears slap bass, streaks of synth, and hiccupping sighs into a splotchy pointillism that’s both abstract and intuitive. On their own, any one of these tracks might be mistaken for an artifact from an alternate-universe ’80s; taken together, they amount to a triumph of world-building. Kate NV has said that she wrote these songs during an emotionally difficult period, but you’d never know it: Every one quivers with the thrill of unlimited possibility.