Album Review: Ryat / ‘Totem’ (Brainfeeder)

★★★★☆

Straight out the gate, Christina Ryat is sizing up Björk’s crown. There’s no getting away from it, a fractured voice from a creature blossoming from electronic fissions and bugged collages trivialising the need for straight lines to match neatly, exhaling a kinked beauty that twists round awkward sonic oblongs. Buying into the Brainfeeder ethos (“Howl”) and helping widen its margins, the free-spirited vocal style can be intimidating and diva-ish (which should have other alt producers queuing round the block to work with her), but curiosity and the guessing as to what’s coming next overtakes feeling threatened by her.

The angelically imperfect tones can only survive against a backdrop of pick-up-and-play production that makes the album performance art in love with the challenge of poking and goading your headphones. As with most stockpiled compositions of this kind, amongst the rubble caused by the bucking “Seahorse”, compassion and understanding is a hidden ally, advanced upon by fast outbreaks of ideas tripping over one another (“Object Mob”).

Ryat makes a mockery of any maverick evaluation in that she makes you feel comfortable in the unconventional, despite lacking user-friendliness that should send you cross-eared. You could level many Scandinavian-bred clichés and comparisons against Ryat, except for when you realise she is the master (or mistress) of her own destiny.
File under: Björk, Aerea Negrot, Barbara Panther

Matt Oliver