Makeda’s ‘Lifetrap’ EP is an exercise in both personal & sonic exploration
Melbourne multi-disciplinary experimentalist and DJ MAKEDA has been honing on a specific sort of electronic music that sees her in a league of her own. She creates imaginative dance music with palettes of sound that would be deemed unconventional. She uses her music as a space to innovate, but also as a means for social commentary too.
She’s just put out her debut Lifetrap EP on Melbourne’s Nice Music, using the record to both draw on her familial connection to the London Afro-Caribbean community and also her estrangement from that heritage. In a quick chat with FBi Radio, she said “I was fascinated by how I was connected to the community at the same time as feeling really isolated from it. I’m coming at it like an alien”.
Her connection to her identity was first explored by her through the drum n bass and hardstyle cuts of seminal label Reinforced Records, that have consistently influenced her work. Through this connection to the label, her relationship to this lineage that remains unfamiliar to her is expressed through the minimal, booming sound design explored on Lifetrap.
Track 1 ‘Me, First’ expresses that sense of alienation through crunchy techno textures, intensely thoughtful layering and murky low-ends, all topped off by paranoid alarm bells tucked away somewhere in the background.
‘Pearl & Trotter’ utilises silence in the best way possible. Drawling drone sirens open the track, whispers of distorted vocals amalgamating into a palette of paranoid voices, until rolling bouts of low-ends come through in all of their heavily distorted glory. The end half of the track uses a warbling synth and a variety of vocal sounds to create something deeply resonant.
Track three, ‘Basstrap’ sees her fractured whisper slowly warp in and out of the silence, a haunting exploration of how vocals can be treated both sonically and rhythmically. That paranoid siren comes back in the later half of the track and staying with us as it fades out at the track’s end.
The opening stuttered rhythm of ‘Island Life’ emulates that of the vocal whisper in ‘Basstrap’, but steers us in a completely opposite direction. Harsh electronic sounds pan in and out of the soundscape as the driving stuttered low end continues to push forward. And in the closing moments of the release, a pitched down vocal continues to descend into the deep unheard depths until we’re left with silence.
Makeda‘s Lifetrap EP marks more than just a left-of-centre sonic journey. The personal exploration and growth emanating from this release makes you forget about the artistry for a second, and in that moment, you realise that this body of work is something both tangible and meaningful.
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Words by CAITLIN MEDCALF