Boomkat Product Review:
Head-turning début of avant-classical torch songs and stark chamber like works infiltrated by shocks of noise and guest vocals from PAN’s new star Eartheater, plus Sunk Heaven and PC Worship. Sounds remarkably close to Arca’s recent vectors, but with less emphasis on pitch bent electronics
“NNA is honored to present ‘The Fool,’ the debut album from NYC-based duo LEYA. Violinist Adam Markiewicz (The Dreebs) and harpist Marilu Donovan have succeeded in creating an incredibly original sound for their project. They combine modernity and antiquity with their chosen instruments by taking ideas from contemporary pop and experimental music, and seamlessly integrating them into classical instrumentation and moods. Utilizing a combination of normal and detuned intervals together with ethereal layered vocals, the resulting sound of LEYA is unmistakable and haunting. It is both ancient and singular in tone, but remains open to the influences and ideas of the modern day underground in it’s structural simplicity.
LEYA aims to deconstruct the traditional connotations of the harp and violin by luxuriating in the deviant juxtaposition of ugliness vs. beauty. These two stringed instruments are most commonly associated with classical beauty, but by altering their sound through unorthodox tunings, extended techniques, amplification, and effects, Donovan and Markiewicz are able to mine the depths of their darker, more unsettling capacities. The tuning system created for Donovan’s harp is specific to the project, and was discovered by chance. Rather than being driven by scientific or conceptual intentions, this tuning is chosen based on it’s sound alone, giving LEYA a defined identity that embraces human instinct and imperfection.
The duo achieves a deeper contrast by seeking to write pop songs with simple, transparent forms. The song structures are left open and sparse in the spirit of creating clear and simple sonic terrain that is meant to grab the listener emotionally, rather than forcing them to analyze the material. The staccato harp pluckings are complemented by long, sustained notes and chords from the violin, creating a dynamic foundation of strings for the vocals to fill in the cracks and crevices. In this sense, the dual vocals are used almost as a textural element or third instrument, where the way the words actually sound takes precedence over the lyrical content. The slow, drawn-out compositional pace of these songs brings them closer to “ambient” territory, enhancing the evocative qualities of the instruments while floating carefully between eerie dissonance and the angelic higher stratospheres of transcendent beauty.
The latter half of ‘The Fool’ brings in a series of guest collaborators from the modern American experimental underground, showing the range of experience and influence that informs LEYA’s sound. Eartheater, PC Worship, and Sunk Heaven each contribute their own signature style to the tracks, but also adapt remarkably well to LEYA’s sound world, due to the open, yet firmly distinct, sonic identity established by Markiewicz and Donovan. In this sense, the power of ‘The Fool’ lies not only in it’s elegant simplicity, but in it’s ability to employ classically expressive atmosphere to suspend the listener in a blissful state of confusion, where the feeling of sound itself is more important than where it comes from.”