An “onna bugeisha”, literally translated as “female martial artist”, was a kind of Japanese female warrior who belonged to the samurai class. Arma Del Amor’s debut album offers the sort of fierceness and elegance that one might imagine of such a warrior.
The Wanaka-based duo of vocalist Martine Harding and instrumentalist Danny Fairley first connected musically in 2013, and since then have released two EPs.
Their 2018 album begins with short instrumental track Seppuku, a haunting prelude built on string sounds that leads directly into Diamond Mind Theory, where Arma Del Amor’s unrelenting rhythms and electronic effects take charge.
Harding’s engaging voice is more soulful than usually expected in electronica. PDigsss’ guest vocals on the ebbing and pushing Undertow add a layer of interest, while sharp mixing and mastering by Benny Tones lets the musicality of all the tracks shine. On first listen ‘Onna Bugeisha’ sounds a lot like a darker, more raw Broods.
Danny Fairley’s skills bring huge versatility to the duo’s ambient electronica sound. Powerful beats and hypnotic chords drive the majority of the 10-track album with two songs in the second half breaking the pace.
Kiss The Mesosphere is a dreamy, experimental interlude between a ballad and an instrumental, while Warhorse is a six-and-a-half minute epic that builds to a huge orchestral climax.