Written by Jack Andrew Cribb
If you asked me to recommend new music for you that treads the uneasy waters between something sweet, and something dark, where the lines blur between innocence and deep debauchery, I’d stop what I was doing and say ‘Seraphina’.
The Londoner, who resides in a ‘church for sinners’, has just released her debut EP, Altar, which is a sultry four-track piece of pop-noir. If there was a spectrum with Lana Del Ray on one end, and Fever Ray on the other, Seraphina would reside in that golden middle space.
“Altar was inspired by two contrasting worlds” The songstress claims, “The hedonistic, neon-lit debauchery of London nightlife, and the cobwebbed trees, gospel choirs and backwater churches of Florida where my paternal family live,”
“I’m inspired by what it is to be human – the murky, bacchic, nocturnal waters of the human psyche are the most powerful because we are all flawed creatures. There’s an Edgar Allen Poe quote that I find myself coming back to again and again, because it hits on this theme perfectly: ‘Each man creates his own god for himself, his own heaven, his own hell.'”
Altar creates this heaven/hell synergy through a tantric mix of chamber pop, injected with little blues licks that crop up at interesting moments. The opening track Lion & Lamb is a dark and lamenting track with a haunting chorus-line. Seraphina constructs these tracks with a gorgeously mellow use of hymnal overlapping vocals, over which are sprinkled vibrating staccato synths, which actually have quite an 80’s pop aesthetic to their sound, but much darker.
Seraphina’s live performances are backed by guitarist Rob Mawer, and even though it is just a group of two, the moody guitar and the undulating falsetto vocals are really quite captivating, as shown in the final track of the EP, Altar. (In which those beginning hummed vocals really do remind me of Fever Ray – dark and delicious). It’s a wonderful final track, the most soulful on Altar, and is actually reminscient in parts of deep south soul and gospel music. Suddenly, the song erupts into a crescendo of guitar, which is pretty damn heavenly.
Are you feeling devilish, or holy? Somewhere in between? Then Seraphina is the perfect choice for you.
Check out the live version of Altar here:
Credit: S E R A P H I N A