Adi Ulmansky (Ft. BORGORE)
Was It You?
Was It You? is available at:
19 July, 2014
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
TODAY’s review is marked by (some) confusion, happenstance and…
crossed-wires. In spite of that, the discovery (of my featured artist) is a fortunate one: here is an act that is going to be a huge prospect. Before I get to that, it is worth tracking back. Today- and how I managed to lose an email from the band- I was due to assess Canadian music. I am sure (and if they are reading this, get back in touch) I will be ‘back on track’ next week; but for now, I am looking across Asia. My only review to date (in Asia) came last year- when assessing India’s Antriksh Bali- and since then, there has been quiet. I often wonder why there is such a concentration (of music from certain places) and a scarcity elsewhere. I know for a fact there is terrific music emanating from Asia, Africa, Australia (and Europe): when we think of new music, we often concentrate on North America and the U.K. It is understandable (these two areas) are under such focus: traditionally the greatest music ever has come from here. Over the last year, I have had my thoughts altered; discovered music (from different areas) and been quite surprised. From French-raised/born Jazz to Australian Christian-Rock, there is a lot of great out there: too many of us concentrate our focus too narrowly. The music coming from Australia is broad and exciting: it is not a huge market, yet the musicians here are fervent and fascinating. Europe is providing (greater diversity) and choice- all manner of genres and sounds are being explored. When I assessed Ellene Masri- an artist born In France; she not lives in the U.S. – it was a rare opportunity to travel away from the U.K. – discover European music of the highest order. Asia is not to be forgotten, either: some fantastic artists are coming through; making their names heard. Perhaps- in their native countries/continents- there is not the same chance to thrive; there is a tendency for artists to emanate (to the U.S. and U.K.). Huge nations provide fans and venues: it is natural musicians make their way (to countries like the U.S.). That said, it is important (these artists) do not lose their identity; remember where they came from- and ensure those discovering them realise that. As much as I love (acts and bands based in the U.K. and North America), I thrive from diversity: musicians that offer some different, exotic, fascinating- away from the blandness that is so prescient. This year- with regards new music- has uncovered some great artists; some terrific sounds- to my mind, there is still not enough originality. Bands (by and large) tend to be predictable and underwhelming- not quite as electric and spine-tingling as they should- whereas solo acts are a little bland. New music has always been the exception: all the acts I have featured are terrific and captivating. The mainstream does throw up quality, yet there needs to be a change: welcome in (more new music) and inject some flavour and colour. If we (the music-lovers) are going to be stay loyal, the mainstream needs a shake-up: blow away the boring and turgid; bring in the young and hungry. What with the immense influx- and innumerable surge of fresh artists- it is impossible locating needles (in the haystack).
Adi Ulmansky is an artist with a difference. She came to my attention- when looking at the website- of Brick London (a P.R./music promotions company based out of Shoreditch). Having reviewed (some of their artists before), I was excited to uncover Ulmansky-see what she is about and what she can offer. One of the first things that strike you- when it comes to Ulmansky- is her looks. Stunningly beautiful- who has a terrific girl-next-door quality- she is a striking proposition. Complete with green hair (and an infectious allure) she stands out from her peers- who tend to be rather unspectacular (in that sense). It is clear she (Ulmansky) is no ordinary star: her style and looks break away from the crowd; she dares to be different and fresh. Aside from her beauty and style, it is the music that hits you. Ulmansky has just finished (an extensive tour of Europe) taking in the likes of Poland and Germany. Her official website recalls her travels: the tour bus memories; the terrific crowds; the memorable festivals are all in there. It is clear (that tour and experience) has been a fond one: she has been able to connect with new crowds; get to see her European fans- take in some wonderful sights. Ulmansky is an artist that favours homemade beats (and comforts) – one of the D.I.Y. artists that prefers the comforts of home. Her music has plenty of grandeur and heaviness; there is plenty of intimacy and personality in there. A lot of (modern-day acts) still go for overproduction and studio luxuries: Ulmansky is someone who does things her own way; keeps the music pure and unfettered; does not clutter it with tinsel and processing. Although she is based out of Tel Aviv, Ulmansky- to my mind at least- shares some parallels with Bjork. Like the Icelandic legend, Ulmansky has a very distinct fashion sense- the striking hair; unique style; memorable looks- and way of working. When the beasts and electronics (in her music) arrive, I am reminded of Bjork- particularly her earlier work. Whether Bjork (is a direct influence for Ulmansky) I am not sure- it is an interesting comparison. With that said, the Israeli heroine does things her own way: she is an original and stunning talent; someone with her own idiosyncrasies and direction. Back in 2013, Ulmansky’s releases (her mixtape Shit Just Got Real and the Hurricane Girl E.P.) received huge acclaim: publications such as The Guardian featured them; heaped praise and support (her way). Gaining the ear of the masses, it was not long (before Ulmansky’s music) was picked up by brands like Nike and American Express- who featured it for their campaigns. 2014 saw collaborations with BORGORE (a long-term collaborator; someone I shall mention later), and a spot at Glastonbury- quite a rise for the young artist. Was It You? – my featured track today- featured (on her debut E.P.)- is a stunning and immediate track- a song that gets right inside your brain. You can tell here is a girl that means business: her E.P. and mixtape have titles that portray a strong-willed and strong human. Every note and vocal is instilled with passion and grit: Ulmansky is an artist that wants to be remembered; her music to be played long and loud. In spite (of her flair and urgency) there is passion and tenderness: some fragility and vulnerability lingers under the surface. This year is going to see quite a change: there is speculation of new material (from our heroine); some exciting gigs perhaps (speculation and excitement will build). Having just completed (an exhausting and extensive tour) she will want to rest, yet there is a huge demand and intrigue: her online numbers are rising; fans are excited to see what will come next. Having accrued an impressive army of fans- her numbers across Twitter and Facebook (combined) top 13,000- she is a fast-growing and beloved artist. In addition to her distinct style, her warmth and personality wins you over: she is an artist that wants to connect with fans; reach as many people as possible- a commodity you do not see in everyone.
Shit Just Got Real– her mixtape released in 2013- features a compendium of sounds: fragmented vocals; diced beats; head-spinning electronics. Hip-Hop influences come to the fore; Post-Dubstep styles: all wrapped up in Ulmansky’s Pop-tinged vocals. The sound- that runs throughout the mixtape- is youthful and vibrant; urban and gripping- her lyrics are rapped, twisted and seductive. Not content to stick with one course, vocals (and beats) contort and refract: Ulmansky switches course rapidly; her attentions change and charge- it is a heady and exhausting listen. Being a mixtape, it plays out like a mini-opera: there are few gaps and chances to draw breath. A daring and impressive release, Ulmansky (at her embryonic stage) marked herself out as an artist to watch: an incredible writer and vocalist; someone who understands music at its core. Fearless and impossible-to-define; cross-pollinating and authoritative, Shit Just Got Real lives up to its title: the likes of M.I.A., James Blake (and FKA twigs) never produced anything this immediate. Chillwave and Urban; Pop and Electronic: the Tel Aviv wonder is not content to sit still. Shit Just Got Real proved how ‘together’ Ulmansky was: there are no loose edges and wasted notes; no sense of ambling and naivety. Every beat, swathe and vocal seemed natural and perfected- counterbalanced with a loose and easy sound. That mixture of looseness-cum-finesse showed its hand in Hurricane Girl– the E.P. that followed a few months later. Back in 2011, Ulmansky was part of Lorena B- a short-lived act that produced a couple of wonderful released (over 2011-2012). Since- the disintegration of her band- Ulmansky has been collaborating a lot: sparring with the likes of BORGORE and Lishkoah Meakol, she is hard to tire- not an artist that seems to slow or relax much. Since her early days, Ulmansky has grown in confidence and direction. Her latest track (well, released last year) is her most impressive and nuanced cut: the testament of her past work; the summation of her guile, force and innovativeness. Tying together her previous glories- the stylish and variegated sounds- with her recent inspirations; Was It You? Is a stunning slice of music.
Delicate (and nursery rhyme soft) electronics welcome in Was It You? – putting me in mind of Bjork’s Vulnicura and Biophilia tenderness. Sparse and tripping, the beat comes in. Lurching and punchy; it parabonds with supreme intuition and ease. Juxtaposing the graceful undertones, the (slightly dirty) percussion gives the track some danger and street vibes: you can imagine a late-night London sojourn; the song side-winds through elemental avenues and smoke-tinged (dingy) neighbourhoods. Anyone expecting a Shit’-style rush- or an Urban warfare throw-down- will bridle (with a smile on their face). Ulmansky’s first contribution is one of beauty and delicacy. “Things are getting lost/Just like you and I” our heroine sings- with some oblique fascination and child-like enunciation. With (maybe a touch of) modern-day Electronica and Pop, there is a mixture of mainstream quality and distinct Ulmansky: an infusion that instantly soothes the bones; inspires the imagination; compels the soul. With its accompanying video (see the YouTube link) you start to conspire and project: Ulmansky seems heartbroken and lost; dislocated and adrift. As the early stages progress- and the video unfolds- our heroine looks on: stuck in a “dark room of fog” that unfolds “right in front (of my) eye.” Whereas most tracks- of this kin; by her peers- look at blame and break-up (and put the blame with the other party), here there is ambiguity and doubt- our heroine is unsure how things (got like they did) and who is the culpable one. With her voice gliding and cooing- tripping and bathed in silk- BORGORE beats add weight and candor to proceedings. Ulmansky seems emotional and fragile- yet her voice remains strong and together- lost in the haze of her own thoughts and recollections. With anxiety and desperation- “Was it, was it, was it you?”- Ulmansky seems drugged and forlorn: trying to piece things together, that sense of confusion shines through. The heroine is not sure what has happened; where things went wrong- even wondering: “Do you even remember me?” Impossible to forget or leave (you would imagine) Ulmansky’s sweetheart has departed; shards have been left- she is trying to figure things out. As the beats (and electronics) stutter and sparkle, our heroine’s voice pushes and presses: both breathy and open, it is an intoxicating performance. Whilst the mood augments- and the composition becomes more frantic and layered- Ulmansky recollects: “I miss the feeling of being held/In your arms so tight…” She is trying to fly/live her life- while her wings are number- trying to forget- although the same (bad) memories come to the forefront. The video (for the track) is striking and compelling: strange images; artistic scenes; our heroine walking alone- is a perfect fit. Propelled and supported- by the insatiable and stunning composition- Ulmansky is swimming in a centrifuge: her heart has been fragmented; her life changed forever. You can sense that need for closure and satisfaction: she wants things to go back to how they were; be in the arms of her man- unsure why he went away; how things fell apart. When BORGORE comes in to play the ‘anti-hero’: her man and former sweetheart is in apologetic voice. Calling out to her, there is a fond desire- that his “so pretty” girl- to be with her; to have her in his arms- return things to their former state. Adding Rap and Hip-Hop (into the Electronic mood), BORGORE adds some urgency and force- adding some dark shades into the light. When BORGORE recollects, he is earsing (bad memories) and rewriting the romance- altering events and changing facts. Remembering some find times- jumping from buildings; hot and heavy moments- it is clear (Ulmansky) had quite an effect- the heroine has left her mark; cast her spell, and caused some hurt. Who is to blame, we are not sure- there is some confusion as to who left whom- but one thing is for sure: neither party seems happy (with their lot). Ulmansky seems affected and yearning; BORGORE angered and lustful- the combination (of the twin voices and prohections) works wonderfully. Both voices slot together perfectly- hardly surprising as they have worked together before- and neither one seems out of place. Ulmansky’s sweet sensuality (and breathy sexuality) spars with BORGORE’s harder Rap- wrapped around the swirling electronics, Was It You? is a classic slice of Electro.-Pop. As the final notes come into play- and the video comes to its conclusion- our heroine sits and ponders; burns old memories- leaves the listener rooting for her. Whether (our heroine gained) answers is not clear: you really hope her hurt dissipated; her pain subsised. With its incredible production and stunning composition; tied with the incredible vocal performances- the track is an instant success. Pairing with original (and personal) lyrics, it is a track that gets inside your brain- and makes you sigh (and fall for Avi Ulmansky).
I have blathered on excessively: I hope Avi Ulmansky will forgive my loquaciousness and fevered passion. I would love to see Ulmansky play London (I know she has played here before) and show the capital what she is about: I know many people who would flock to see her. With the likes of FKA twigs, James Blake (and Electro. artists with clout) a minority: we need to see (and hear) more of this girl. It would be understandable- were Ulmansky to recuperate and take some down-time- following such a whirlwind tour. After the dust has settled, there will be plenty of options: does she opt for an all-out L.P.; an E.P. perhaps; some more collaborating? Will the music be extemporaneous and sexy; hard-hitting and snarling; kaledopsic and shape-shifting? Know Ulmansky, it will be all of the above! Was It You? Is a tantilising glimpse into the future: a sign of her upcoming direction and a window into her psyche? It would be great to hear an album in 2015/16- whether her freewheelin’ and mixtape-ready style would work in this arena- from the Israeli Siren: she is a fantastic songwriter with plenty of moods and ideas. Whatever arrives will surely feature BORGORE; it will have elements of Shit Just Got Real– incorporate current influence and experiences. When that moment arrives, it will be an exciting one: fans and followers are eager to see what comes next. Being a new fan (of Ulmansky) I am catching up on lost time: looking back at her past; discovering everything I can. Was It You? is bold and brave; exciting and rainbow-coloured- filled with drama, fascination and questions. It is Ulmansky’s spirit and drive (that enforces her music) and I cannot wait to see where it takes her. Before I wrap up, I want to circle back to my opening point: that which relates to cultural diversity and exploration. Many of us- when it comes to music at least- will not be over-familiar with Tel Aviv: unaware that artists like Avi Ulmansky are around. It is great to discover local talent, but it’s even more exciting finding something foreign: something unusual and new; international and unexpected. The rest of 2015 will see the young artist weigh up her options; decide what she wants to do- she may already know and be keeping it close to her chest. Having (just now) enthralled and entertained Europe, she is taking a much-needed breather- and is lamenting the end of (a wonderful experience). When she regroups, magic will surely emerge: something new and different; a record that will excite her fans. It will not be long until Ulmansky is a mainstream name; plays the biggest and more prestigious festivals- she played Glastonbury in 2014- and is a common name. Until that day arrives (sooner rather than later) discover what the buzz is about: the girl has a desire to be heard and discovered. Gorgeous and striking; talented and pioneering fresh and vibrant- here’s an artist we need to support. Make sure you dig out her mixtape; her involved with her E.P. – take a listen to her latest song. Once that is done, prepare yourself for what is to come- whatever form that takes. Whatever she has in mind- whether it is a musical about-face or sweeping album- one thing is certain:
IT will be impossible to resist.
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