To categorize A K U A’s (pronounced “a-koo-ah”) music as neo soul is misleading. For the most part neo soul has become predictable, and as far as I know there is no one making the kind of soul A K U A is crafting here. The label “remote soul” is used to describe her sound as well, and there is something unknowable and distant about it. Aquatic soul may also be an apt label. There is a rhythmic underwater sensuality to her music that is incredibly unusual. And a tribal freshness that is spellbinding. (Its glitchy sounds and drums create an earthy electronic quality that feels authentic). Then again, maybe it should just remain uncategorized.
The Montreal based singer-songwriter’s five song EP, One’s Company, co-produced with Andy Bauer (drummer in Twin Shadow) and Martin Rodriguez, is an eclectic and captivating blend of electro-pop, jazz and R&B.
Its first release, “Gravity,” has A K U A singing in a delicately precise (almost Brit) manner. The intrigue sparked by “Gravity” transforms into wonderment after hearing the rest of the EP.
A K U A is a master at creating atmosphere. A sonic storyteller. OC transports listeners over – and beneath – exotic lands under the cloak of musical darkness. “Monsters,” with its drums and synths, sounds like sparkling waves crashing onto a mysterious beach just before dawn. The rhythmic “One’s Company” has a slow tribal beat that you can’t help but move with. In the tropical infused “Push” – with its Esthero like quality – A K U A warns a lover that “If you’re trying to push me away, you’re doing just fine. Push harder.” It is a beautifully written song about that ambiguous moment in a relationship when you find yourself asking, “Do you want me still or not?” And the jazzy attitude infused “Told You So,” for lack of a better word, has school-girl meets lady swag. One’s Company is a tight beautifully executed EP.
Then there’s A K U A, her look and sound adds wonderfully to the pantheon of quirky soulful R&B-ish artists such as CocoRosie, Bajka and Esthero. But here I go trying to categorize again.
When One’s Company comes to an end – which is far too soon. A full-length album is definitely in order – you feel like you have been gently placed back onto dry land (maybe by the mermaid in A K U-A’s video “Gravity”).
When you’re ready to be swept away again, simply return to track one and close your eyes.