Boomkat Product Review:
Translating to "don't step on the flower", Bratislava-based Adela Mede's sophomore album is a deftly experimental celebration of language and Central European folklore, featuring collaborations with Martyna Basta and Wojciech Rusin.
On the liner notes for her debut 'Szabadság', Mede admitted that she was searching for meaning. With 'Ne Lépj a Virágra' she's found her rhythm and become more confident in her identity, singing in three languages (Hungarian, Slovakian and English) and often melting them together to reflect the reality of her life in Bratislava, a city on the Danube that borders both Austria and Hungary. Mede's vocals are the focal point of the record, but she doesn't simply sing - she treats her voice like a raw material to be sculpted and layered until it's a ghostly trace, a dense wall of sound or a virtual choir of wails, syllables and coos. On the glorious 'Hol A Tavasz' (where is spring), we hear Polish artist Martyna Basta's unmistakable electro-acoustic twangs underneath Mede's reversed words, almost forming a new tongue. Ghostly and disquieting, the music is effortlessly Lynchian, picked out of the darkness with dissonant accordion drones, cricket chirps and whispered shuffles.
'What the Heart Sees Not' retains the crepuscular mood; Mede sings as if she's belting out an aria in a remote cave, slurring around unstable loops that snowball into overdriven noise. Even when it's a wall of sound, the track still sounds chained to its vocal roots, the loop points themselves mimicking Mede's delivery. When Wojciech Rusin shows up to add psychedelic ornamentation and medieval instrumentation to 'Nestoj Nado Mnou' (don't stand over me), we're fully situated in Mede's sonic reality, a Central European crossroads where culture, history and language intersect. She interprets this exceptionally well, swerving the obvious and preferring to leave the unravelling to each listener. We can hear traces of folk music and church songs in her compositions, but every sound is dissolved into a bubbling roil of expert experimentation that redefines the limits of the human voice.
It's impressive, but not surprising, to learn that Mede teaches singing to both children and adults in Slovakia, and some of her students appear throughout the album, adding spectral echoes that provide an apt bedrock for her themes. Opening track 'Sing with Me' is mirrored by the brief closer 'Sing with Us', bookending the record with a sense of growth. The former is a selection of circling loops that seem close, contemporary and stifling, while the latter is distant, peculiarly tuned and with a foot in the past and an ear to the future.