Just when you think that everything had been achieved with some of the most iconic samples in electronic music (808s, 606s, stock MPC etc.) Estere comes along to re-educate you on the nature of possibility. When opener Reptilian Journey starts with an austere off-kilter beat, building up layers from the most recognisable of drum samples, one could be forgiven for having doubts.
But Estere knows exactly what she is doing and not only proceeds to allay concerns – but over the course of this seven-track album, lays a pipeline direct to your own reptilian brain. Each song improves on the developments made in the last, reaching a high-water mark with closers Culture Clash and Pity.
Comparisons with Little Dragon will be inevitable (in the best of ways) as Estere’s soulful vocals are complimented by minimal beats and contrasting (mostly electronic) arrangements. She knows how to leverage child-like quirkiness while ruminating on serious topics such as greed, poverty as well as the unique world view and sense-of-self that comes from being confidently of mixed race. Nothing in the writing, performance or production leaves clues that this is the result of any but this single human, with a sentient MPC named ‘Lola’. All aspects are first rate and benefit from the unity of vision that comes from having a single skilled artist driving the project.
Estere and Lola recorded most of the album together at home before entering Wellington’s Blue Barn Studios to lay the vocals and polish the production. This solid debut leaves little mystery as to why Estere was chosen to open for Erykah Badu and Morcheeba this past year. Bigger things are inevitable.