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Nia Archives - Forbidden Feelingz Music Album Reviews

Nia Archives - Forbidden Feelingz Music Album Reviews
Running influences from classic jungle, reggae, and R&B through pop music’s pithy filter, the Manchester producer is extending UK hardcore’s legacy to a new generation.

Let’s get the inevitable PinkPantheress comparisons out the way first. Both Nia Archives and PinkPantheress like a breakbeat. They’re both relatively young, and open in their admiration of mid-’90s UK dance music. PinkPantheress calls her style “new nostalgic,” Nia Archives goes with “future classic.” They both sing. They’re both women operating in dance-music spaces that have historically been sausage fests. And they’re both fueling a renaissance of the UK’s dance-music canon among curious, TikTok-enabled generations—which is why the comparisons are so tempting to make. But comparisons being inevitable doesn’t make them useful.

While PinkPantheress plumbs turn-of-the-millennium jungle and garage for curios and loops (and is open about her own freshness to it), Nia Archives is a studious devotee of the jungle scene. The Leeds native left home at 16 and came up playing basements and squat parties around drum’n’bass-loving Manchester, and she’s since been taken under the wing of the elders at foundational jungle imprint V Recordings as part of the EQ50 initiative, which aims to redress the scene’s historic gender imbalance. Her songs, along with diaristic lyrics about parties and problems, are stuffed with nods to junglist culture and its roots in big bass scoops. Her voice is indebted to the jazzy licks of Erykah Badu and Nina Simone, while she lifts a soulful lilt and lyrics from the sunnier sides of reggae music—all ingredients picked up, she’s said, from her West Indian upbringing. And then she pulls it all through pop music’s two-and-a-half-minute mangle, with mesmerizing results.

There’s a fine line between being devoted and sounding derivative, but Nia Archives traverses the divide with easy elegance. The title track—a standout among highlights on this fast-paced six-tracker—samples vintage TV for its punctuation (a neat setup from Columbo’s titular detective) and deploys the gnarly Reese bass that served as a bridge between jungle and its drum’n’bass fork in the mid-’90s. On “18 and Over” you get an instantly familiar reggae hook in the intro (Cocoa Tea’s “Young Lover”) and a sampled call to arms (“Give me a motherfucking breakbeat!”) that’s littered everywhere from Hardsequencer’s 1993 acid slammer “Some Motherfucking Breakbeat” to the gabber headrush of Hardliner’s “Motherfucking Breakbeat” from the same year, all the way up to 2020’s far more serene “Brand E” by John Frusciante. So far so familiar, perhaps. But then Nia Archives starts singing, and her voice spins, captivating, like a smoke ring. “Gud Gudbyez” will have you reaching in vain to the back of your brain to figure out where you’ve heard the trippy hook before. (Don’t worry, you haven’t.) She toasts like a soundsystem MC: churning loose words and cute phrases over and back, catching a second of delay here, lingering on a wispy vowel there, stepping over bouldering basslines and precision-tracked breaks. And everything fits just so.

Unlike those soundsystem MCs, Nia Archives can give the sense that she’s singing as much for herself as to her listeners. On opener “Ode 2 Maya Angelou,” she swaps her own voice in and out for the late poet-activist’s, drip-feeding lines from a recital of Angelou’s most famous work, “Still I Rise,” like a morning affirmation. “Luv Like,” with its thumbed bass and picked guitar recalling Roni Size’s “Brown Paper Bag,” appears, for all intents, as an adolescent love song—“To think that you could ever love someone like me,” she coos—before throwaways like “I’m far from perfection” reveal its meditation on the turmoil of dysmorphia. “Thank god I found a good in a goodbye,” she simmers on “Gud Gudbyez.” Extroversion turns inward. Comedown thoughts are soundtracked by music from the night before.

Nia Archives is clearly cognizant of the lineage she’s writing into, and she likes to show her work. But she’s never showing off. There’s nothing self-indulgent here: The half-time breakdown on “18 and Over” lasts just long enough (which is 10 seconds); “Forbidden Feelingz” bangs itself out just as it gets going, as if shy at its own wild performance. As the years roll round, every established scene finds claimants for a new generation at its porch. With songs like these—laser-sharp, as intimate and comforting as they are fresh and rollicking—Nia Archives won’t need to kick the door in.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Nia Archives - Forbidden Feelingz Music Album Reviews Nia Archives - Forbidden Feelingz Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Friday, March 18, 2022 Rating: 5

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