Miami-based artist Nina Belief has always been one of our favorite modern synth acts this side of the Atlantic. It’s been ten years since her last full-length LP, though several standalone singles, collaboration tracks, and live performances have kept her name close to our hearts. This past February, the Iranian-born musician released Vessel of Voices via No Emb Blanc (Minuit Machine, Sixth June, Liste Noire), an unexpected album featuring a whopping eighteen tracks spanning two LPs. Over the last few months, it’s quickly become one of our favorite records of the year.
Many of the album’s tracks were recorded over the last fifteen years, and as such, Vessel of Voices is a wildly eclectic, yet rewarding affair. “At one point a couple of years ago I almost lost all the recordings and it saddened me,” Belief mentions. “I felt like I abandoned some part of myself that was sacred and decide to release the music before it was too late. Releasing work that’s deeply personal is risky, especially when it’s riddled with imperfection. It was time to let it all out and it scared the hell out of me.”
Vessel of Voices is a peak into Belief’s mind, through and through. The LP swings wildly, shifting styles and structures at the blink of an eye. Inspired in part by the minimal synth movement of the late 1970s and early 1980s (a loosely defined genre in itself that combines the sonic experimentation of early Cabaret Voltaire with the pop wizardry of OMD), Belief’s work expands on these DIY ethics, combining fast and furious rhythms with lush waves of vintage synthesizers, all unified by Belief’s vocals and direct lyrics. Some tracks, such as “Invisible Woman” and “Carrion” retain minimal synth’s punk ethos, while songs like “The Last Time” and “Binding Life” aim for the fences with thick, driving synth pop energy. “Dull Horoscope” is another highlight, a slower, slithering affair full of noise and texture. “Wolf in the Fog” adds a dash of coldwave romanticism, featuring hypnotic synth interplay that recalls Martin Dupont’s best works, while “”Sara Strobes” is a fast and furious synth punk workout, more experimental and frantic than anything else on the LP.
“I don’t really have full control when I make music or go into the process with any premeditated ideas. Ironically I often find myself in the studio just after tough moments in life,” Belief adds. “Art often sabotages and looks for instigators. Generally I create music depending on the mood I’m in and rarely stick to any one style. I have no allegiance to any one sound thus Vessel of Voices is a rather eclectic release.”
While many of the album’s tracks have been rescued from the vault, there are several new recordings mixed in for good measure. Many of the newer tracks were written for Belief’s recent live performances, serving as a means to keep the creative process alive and to tap into a more sonically balanced atmosphere. The album ends with a remix of “The Last Time” by fellow synth maestro Automelodi, which brings the track to new emotional levels. While bonus tracks often dilute an album in my experience, the remix is a welcome bookend to an album full of exciting twists and turns, expanding on a familiar motif to bring the album home.
Stream Vessel of Voices below via Bandcamp and check out the full album artwork and track listing below:
Nina Belief – Vessel of Voices
1. Lights Out
4. Come Alive
6. Invisible Woman
7. Black Tango
8. The Last Time
9. Dull Horoscope
11. Binding Life
12. Simulate Contact
13. Wax Ride
15. Wolf in the Fog
16. Sara Strobes
17. Darkness in You
18.The Last Time (Automelodi Mix)