Ryat – Totem

Album Review by Sam Wiseman | 23 May 2012
  • Ryat - Totem
Album title: Totem
Artist: Ryat
Label: Brainfeeder
Release date: 5 Jun

A female solo artist who generates lush, complex electronic soundscapes, which ebb and flow between chamber-pop peaks and shuffling, syncopated glitchy beats, is inevitably going to generate comparisons with Björk; and in US artist Ryat’s case, the parallels are rendered impossible to ignore by the similarities in vocal pitch and timbre. Along with acts like Zola Jesus and Tara Busch, Ryat’s aesthetic testifies to the enduring influence and imaginative possibilities of Björk’s cinematic, ambient electronica-led approach to song.

That sound does mean that Totem occasionally struggles to shrug off the dated, coffee-table melodrama of 90s trip-hop; and some of Ryat’s experiments, like the jazz-influenced Object Mob, backfire, undermining the tension and cohesion of the record somewhat. Yet tracks like Footless, which buries an insistent, pugilistic grime kick beneath radiant, tremulous chord patterns, are more common; and they illustrate that Ryat’s rhythmic inspirations and aesthetic palette are, for the most part, canny and original.