47th Helen from Austin, TX's P'Like sounds like a gloomy electro soundtrack to Alan Moore's V For Vendetta, if the occupant of room 5 happened to be a little girl with emotional problems.
47th Helen, the first solo record from P'like, is a short, conceptual EP about a character named Helen (or is it?), who's been sequestered in a psychiatric hospital, undergoing untold experimental treatments that leaves her identity in fragments. Each track is named after one of the personalities - The Baroness, Temperance, Emma, Persephone and Lucy. Each part is more like a piece of the whole rather than individual tracks, which suggests that perhaps "Helen" isn't as fragmented and damaged as she might believe. It also makes this EP flow more like a DJ set or mixtape, which is no bad thing.
P'like is the creation of the mysteriously monikered EM, who started out playing bass in a rock band, before moving on to the experimental industrial outfit Bishop Buzzkill, where she learned how to play keyboards and sequence, then moving on to drum programming. The sound is in the orbit of the rigid trap sound with the gauzy, spectral séance of witch house, which I miss to the depths of my soul.
Woolen, thudding ponderous beats meet staccato strings - similar to Beyonce's "Flawless" - with the ethereal vocals of Veela from the band Blackmill, whose samples appear throughout, along with the requisite old newsreel footage and documentary snippets about psychiatric drugs and mental treatment.
I won't beleaguer the fact that EM is a woman, except to say:
1. It's nice to see a lady producer. I know there are probably tons and tons of them out there, and I just need to dig. But recently I googled "female techno producers" and the results were so scarce it was embarrassing.
2. There is nothing stereotypically "feminine" about 47th Heaven, which is dark and brooding as they come, but there is an airy and ethereal air, mainly in the vocal samples, and light, chiming, childlike samples, which creates some lovely, haunting cognitive dissonance, and is a welcome respite from the normally thuggish and leaden sounds of trap, grime and witch house.
Electronic music can be a bit of a boy's club with an emphasis on gadgets and gizmos and flashy tech, but it needn't be that way. Do a quick scan of any dance club anywhere, and ask yourself how much ladies like dance music. In fact, it is one of the genres that has the greatest capacity for true androgyny with its emphasis on futurism and transcendence. We all are one in the machine. So I applaud EM and encourage her to keep going!
P'like is short for "pretend like," a game of make-believe EM played with her sister, growing up. This short and very sweet EP reminds us that we need not give up childish things when we grow old, nor do we need let our hearts die. Instead, our imaginations grow richer, more fertile and we're more capable of bringing those fancies into the real world.
P'like is off to a banging start, so climb on board now, before you have to dole out $350 for SONAR or Burning Man.
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