I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to realise this, but artists and managers who send me personalised and polite emails, who demonstrate that they know something about my musical taste, almost invariably send me good songs. Take for example this artist to have arrived into my inbox this week: Woinkpa. Ok, so the name looks a little strange because it is’s clearly foreign, but the song I just listened to, “Tenderised”, which was released 2 weeks ago, was certainly enough make me want to write about it. Dreamy, swirling electronica? Yes please…
“Tenderised” is a glorious soundscape of modern and retro RnB synths that builds and builds into something that is quite phenomenal at end. Everything feels like it fits together perfectly, and the layering of this song means that you can discover something new on almost every listen. To my ears, this song has a very Justin Timberlake “20/20 Experience” feel about it: the vocals are dreamy and soft like Zero 7/Massive Attack, whilst the beats have the energy of an RnB song that keeps this song on the ‘energising’ side of the spectrum rather than the ‘sleepy’ side of it. In fact, put on almost any of the first songs off that Justin album and you’ll hear at least a few similarities.
The composition of the vocals and the many synths dotted throughout is what makes this music jump out. It is suitably complex for a style of music that can often be a bit dull and samey, and the balance between the layers gives it a depth of sound that is all encompassing. At times, it is perhaps a little bit full for my liking, but overall it sounds great.
However, both the strength and the weakness of this song is that it builds and builds into something that is a completely different beast to the one we hear at the start. Additional vocal harmonies and gated synths increase the intensity as we go along, and the spine shivering chord change on the final chorus adds to this even more; which is great!
However, if you really want to get your teeth into what this song is about, you need persistence. The first third is ok – it sounds like what a lot of electronic producers/acts normally create – but it isn’t until the drums drop out at 50s and we get to the chorus that you begin to see the potential of the song. For me, this is verging on risky. On the one hand, this increases the impact of the progression that you’re hearing, which is obviously what the artist had in mind, but on the other hand, it doesn’t have the instant ‘wow factor’ that a lot of listeners with low attention spans require these days. “Tenderised” requires some TLC if you’re to get the most out of this song, which is ok, but I think this will split some opinions.
Overall, Woinkpa is an artist I’m glad to have discovered. She sounds like the early beginnings of my favourite band of last month Glass Animals, which shows both good targeting on behalf of her and her management, as well as being part of a trend that is going strong at the moment. This being the only track on her Soundcloud, I cannot yet judge her fairly as an artist, but from what I heard today, it is definitely encouraging.