Decha - La vida te busca (Malka Tuti, 2021)
On her second LP, Sculptor and artist Viktoria Wehrmeister takes proceedings to new heights of thought and concept, as we meander through some beautifully considered soundscapes that combine rhythmical flourishes with continually involving vocal mastery.
The role of the voice and vocalisation in music has forever shifted and morphed throughout the ages, but its importance in pretty much every single genre cannot be understated. Vocals provide the definitive layer of narrative, where lyricism portrays stories of all manner of emotions, places, people and relationships, delivered to us atop a sea of instrumentalism that swerves between the layers to uplift the words and support them to the 8th degree. Like with many other wide reaching genres, Electronic Music and vocal work have gone hand in hand for many years, with a large number of sub genres utilising vocalists to elevated instrumentals from purely emotional and ethereal numbers into a living, breathing humanised feel, and more often than not the results are pretty stunning. Whilst in many dance or electronic music tracks where the vocals act like a finishing touch to elevate cuts to new emotional spaces, there have been instances where vocals act like a properly integrated instrument, their placement and form acting like an additional synth part, floating just above the mid range frequencies as a kind of morphing binding agent. This kind of approach to vocal arrangement has led to some incredible results, where we feel the integration of all the layers in the mix providing the fullest kind of experience, one where everything comes together in a fluctuating space that keeps things going on strong throughout the experience. From Dub to House, R'n'B to Neo-Soul, Techno and beyond, there are many instances of excellence when it comes to vocal performances that stick long in the memory, with vocalists pouring their hearts and souls into the tracks that provide that instant connection to the music and the story being told. This dynamism helps to provide compelling moments on both the dance floor and when listening at home, in that we can feel and understand whats going on in both instances with differing physical and mental reactions, and that is a wonderful feeling indeed. Within the realms of experimental music however, vocal performances often take on numerous nuances when it comes to delivery and content, with heaps upon heaps of artists combining wonderful vocal melodies within dazzling seas of instrumentation that do wonders to the soul, a series of soundscapes that are more than happy to invite us in and keep us locked in for as long as possible. The voice remains a very powerful tool indeed, its presence maintaining a human connection throughout even the most spacious and daring of audial environment, with our minds weaving along the yarn which is being spelled out to us, its winding narrative continuing to drive forward mental meanderings and fuel our deepest perceptions. Artists who push the voice to the forefront of their compositions remain like a twinkle in the sky, their shining embrace floating down from above to keep us warm and comfortable as we ponder the bigger meanings in life, their words doing much to help us feel a certain way or look through the transparency just a little bit more. The narratives that flow towards us and around us maintain a steady sense of connection, a set of emotions that provides so much yet asks so little, only for a set of ears that are ready and willing to listen in and maybe step out into the night with them. The usage of vocals might have changed significantly over time, but its consistency as a mood setter and tonal instrument will never go away, and when you find a vocalist with daring instrumentals and superb sound design running underneath it all, then you are onto a serious winner indeed.
All of these ideals - and more - apply to the Mexican born German artist Viktoria Wehrmeister, who for some time now has been wowing music lovers the world over with her deeply intriguing vocal style, that has only gone from strength to strength as time has passed by. Perhaps it is her background as an artist that has fed into her musical stylings, but there is plenty of things to celebrate within both her work as a guest vocalist on other releases alongside her own solo works, which she releases under the name Decha. Wehrmeister has been active as a musician since the mid 90s, which saw her feature on a wide variety of records as a member of numerous German groups, which ranged from Prog Rock to Art Rock and back to Krautrock, with the bedrock of these records certainly helping to set the stage for her later solo releases. The experimentalism found within these releases, particularly in relation to the sonics and the deft touches applied in relation to the scale and scope of proceedings certainly helped to refine Wehrmeister's singing style, a voice that wavered in the air with its captivating tone and length, drifting in and out of consciousness as all manner of rhythm and density swirled underneath. Its testament to her range but also her vision that she was able to apply herself so very well to the music being conjured up underneath, with so many frequencies being provided for her to vibe off of, and as a result the music was always incredibly beautiful and deeply mystifying. Not only did she lend her voice to these records, but she helped with compositions, production and arranging, showcasing her ability to also help shape and direct where these songs started off and where they would end up, with this journey always a deeply captivating meander indeed. During this period of her career, she was a member of La! NEU?, with the band releasing some pretty incredible progressive rock leaning records during the mid 90s and early 00s, with releases to look out for including their superb debut 'Dusseldorf', which arrived in 96'; the captivating melodies found on the 'Gold Regen (Gold Rain)' record, which arrived in 1998; and the brilliantly expressive and daringly bold 'Year Of The Tiger', which also arrived in 98'. She also featured on two albums with 1-A Dusseldorf, 2001's 'Live' and 2003's 'Pyramidblau', which was a tribute the late Thomas Dinger, who founded the band, with the group's sound very much rooted in the ideals of liberal expressionism and the art of looping experimental brilliance. Finally, she was also a member of the indie rock group Superbilk, with whom she would record 3 albums, 'Superbilk' (1996), 'Konfiture' (1997), and another record called 'Superbilk', along with a single 'Kookai/Bildidee', which landed in 95 alongside Kriedler. This was an incredibly productive period of her career, which saw Wehrmeister involved in a number of incredibly wide reaching projects which helped to hone her craft and perhaps help to define her later releases, which wouldn't arrive until 2016 in the form of Toresch, a duo made up of herself and Detlef Weinrich (who also releases music under a certain alias called Toulouse Low Trax). The duo would record two brilliant records together, 2016's 'Essen Fur Alle' and 2017's 'Untitled', both of which demonstrated the pairs affinity with crafting incredibly rich and daring compositions, with Wehrmeister's vocal work a standout in terms of its versatility and pose, its weaving form complimenting the instrumentals underneath with purpose and meaning. In all, Wehrmeister showcased her voice in the most daring and diverse of settings, her vocal lines acting as a thread that moved in and around a series of ever growing densities and spaces, never failing to mesmerise or transfix as we immersed ourselves in both the melodies and the lyricism. Her voice matched the intensities of the instruments around her, acting as a fantastic top layer to a bedrock of seemingly endless experimentation and creative thought. Be sure to check out her earlier works if you get the chance, trust us when we say you won't be disappointed.
Wehrmeister would take a short break following the last release from Toresch, but would resurface once again in 2019 with the debut release from her new alias Decha, 'Hielo Boca'. This record would see Wehrmeister strip away the densities that occupied so much of the previous records she was involved with and instead focus more so on the rhythmic frequencies that occur between drumming patterns and chordal progressions, with her vocals doubled up to help create a sense of scale and presence. The element that remains very much so is her dedication to experimentalism, with the music seemingly formal yet very loose at the same time, with little elements sporadically popping up with the mixture to help progress tunes from A to B, and it all just works flawlessly. Earlier this year, Wehrmeister would release her second record under the Decha name, 'La Vida Te Busca', which is the subject of today's review. The music found within this record builds so very well on the 2019 debut, a swirling pool of infectious vocal harmonies, beautifully considered rhythmic sections, and of course with a twist of the unexpected and sonically intriguing around every corner. Its hard not to fall in love with, and on that note, lets dive right into this truly exceptional piece of music....
To kick things off, we have ‘Suena bien’, and this track does a great job at kicking off the vibes that will largely define this wonderful record. The looping undertone vocal helps to set a pulse, its rhythm drifting wonderfully from the consistent to the slightly off tempo, and its this shifting allegiance to formality that provides this somewhat floating structure for which everything else can meander around, and meander they do. Light percussive features rattle and shake on both sides of the pan, their presence adding texture and feel to the momentum, as further layers lavishly portray themselves on both sides of the spectrum. The lead vocal arrives soon after, its presence softly speaking to us from within the densities that persist underneath, a crystal clear feel that winds and dips with a beautiful intensity. The switches to the singing parts give over more to the intrigue, as the narrative being given over to us remains one of hypnotic beauty and grace, never faltering in its quest to mesmerise and tantalise. Glorious stuff right here. Up next comes ‘Chebechu’, and this one begins with the punchy bass line of sorts to get us going. Its rhythmic feel provides plenty of space for new elements to join in on the fun, with sporadic textures thrown in to aid the momentum as time passes by. The bass line is joined by an even beefier bass line, with the two working marvellously to keep the flow going onwards and upwards, and as the stage becomes set the vocals drift into view. Their application is very on point to the textural soundscape being painted out to us, its feeling and form rising high above the ground plain, its high notes kissing the clouds and gracing the ethereal currents. We remain grounded, but the voice very much points the way to all manner of spaces and places to get involved in, our minds becoming interwoven into the ever morphing soundscape. Beautiful stuff. Up next comes 'Verteilt euch', which begins with the looping orchestral like vocal line. The vocal line, which sounds so grand yet intimate at the same time, is quickly joined by a series of space age chords to really beefy up the sense of scale, with a lead vocal line then arriving on top to complete the picture so very well indeed. The overall picture is beautifully considered, like travelling through into a near future where things are not quite what they seem but seemingly familiar all at the same time, a convergence of all things meaningful and deep, a presence that reassures as much as it points to new directions. We become transfixed within the space between the spoken word lead vocal line and the background synths and vocals, our eyes searching for everything and everyone we can get our hands on, and there is definitely plenty for us to feast our eyes on. Gorgeous stuff, truly.
'Tonca' arrives next, and this one begins with the most delicate of flickers to get us going. A key line gently touches the ground plain, reverberating off the floor as it disappears into the distance, as a flute lightly floats just above, moving in and out of view as we get to know and understand the feels being presented to us. The key line then doubles up to fill more of the underneath space, as a texture begins to flood the backdrop like a swelling wave, with all the other features growing in intensity as time passes by, and this seems the right time indeed for the vocals to slide into view. Its a measured delivery, and like with the other tracks that follow this theme its gracefully pulled off, a meandering presence that gives over so much to proceedings. Its a beautiful piece, which only increases as additional synth lines throw themselves into the sequence, as Wehrmeister's voice increases ever so slightly to match the subtle growths in intensity. Top, top stuff. 'Ser' comes next, and this one begins with the deep loops to get us going. The repeating vocal line here is extremely expansive, its presence and tone setting the groundwork for which everything else can work alongside, as light ethereal melodies move between the spaces set by the varying vocal lines, which consist of background floating elements and the ever present spoken word line that leads right from the front. It feels like Wehrmeister is speaking to us on the telephone, with all these wondrous melodic sequences moving in and around us in the background, setting the scene for her words to be delivered, and its a particularly wonderful feeling indeed. The times where all the elements start to converge is masterfully pulled off, demonstrating her prowess in composing and also in understanding how so many differing tonal elements can work side by side and not overpower one another. Wonderful stuff. 'Icconuvatu' arrives next, and this one starts in slightly more uptempo territories. The looping vocal line, which repeats the name of the track, is quickly joined by the deep set kicks and intriguing lead vocal line, with the resulting soundscape one of deep expanse and enriching vocal deliveries. The words come thick and fast, filling up the spaces between the cavernous drums with such fever and meaning, with the transitions between densities once again pulled off to a T. The hums that drive up from the bottom help to keep the momentum going, as if that needed any help keeping things going, but it helps to offset the richly textured vocals that persist in other areas, and it all works so very well together. Top notch. To wrap things up, we have the title track, 'life looks for you', and this one begins with the beautiful rhodes keys to get us going. Their grace and presence meander through the course of a morning, a hazy afternoon or an introspective evening, with Wehrmeister's voice gently moving into view as we hear lots of background noises indicating movement and busyness, as if there is a purpose behind it all. She moves from the spoken word and into a fully sung section, with her voice here left to stand alone in its purest form, and its truly beautiful, rising high above the chords as we float back into the spoken word section at the drop of a hat. Its a fitting end to a record that moves through the frequencies with a burning intensity, presenting to us a brilliant take on how vocals and melodic sequences can work alongside each other, with each cut offering up a differing take on how this relationship works, and its an experience you could have on for days on end and never tire of its creativity and its drive.
Vocalism can be an artform, and many artists look to uphold this belief to the 8th degree, and Viktoria Wehrmeister is certainly one of those artists. Her vocal work and compositions have always remained on the edge of innovation, her sound standing alone in regards to its uniqueness in sonics and its creativeness in regards to arrangements, along with a keen eye for how differing elements sound and operate alongside each other, and in this sense it all works incredibly well together from the top to the bottom. Her new record merely cements her status as a master of her craft, as we are treated to a series of audial sequences that provide all kinds of angles and takes on the art of vocalism and its relationship with chordal progressions, where each cut stands out for its purity and its depth. Its a record that will live long in the memory, and one that we cannot recommend enough. One of our favourites for the year, for sure.
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