It’s especially difficult to be critical of music that, at its core, is largely made up of the heart and soul of the artist who wrote it, as even the most rough-cut productions can be far more meaningful than those digitally refined. A Lily’s home-recorded and self-produced EP, Lupa, fits this very description. Referencing the epic of Romulus and Remus, and mirroring the tone and structure the story follows, the release gives listeners a chance to experience the unbound courageousness in James Vella’s distinctive arrangement.

It all begins with “Sparrow,” a track that is raw at its bare bones, and yet easily listenable. The beauty is in the imperfect and harsh way the sounds strike your ear but somehow mix together harmoniously.

The dissonant beginnings of “Animal Temple” and “Holy Comet Lands” hold the same very interesting quality in them. Lupa can make you almost feel like you’re experiencing the music, in much the same way that great narratives seek to immerse their readers into the stories being told.

While “Animal Temple” retains the bright characteristics introduced on the opening, “Holy Comet Lands” introduces a slightly darker undertone to it. All four tracks owe a lot of their artsy appeal to the soft and ominous voice that Vella provides, in addition to the many, often distorted and rough, effects applied behind guitars, bass, and string quartet arrangements.

The disc concludes with “Kora Heart,” which begins with polyphonic vocalization and waves of ambience, the likes of which are hard to explain. Lupa’s ending is in many ways somewhat unsatisfying, as it focuses more than ever on minimalistic elements and effects than the majority of the tracks.

Even so, it’s probably better to have gone out on the most soft-spoken note possible to reinforce the impact that the EP had when it began. Lyrically, Lupa is brilliant on its face, but overall it’s not something you can really sink your teeth into. Though if you’re ready to put your feet up, close your eyes and get swept away, it’s a must hear.

In A Word: Kaleidoscopic

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