ALBUM REVIEW: Riki by Riki

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WRITTEN BY: Vince Barreras

The year could not have come to a stronger start for the LA/NY experimental and avant-garde label, Dais Records. After having a massive 2019 calendar year releasing records for Drab Majesty, Body of Light, and a slew of other incredible artists comes their second release of 2020, Riki by Riki

The label introduced Riki to their roster of dark wave/electronic artists in late 2019, which would serve as the artists debut album. Based in Los Angeles, Riki (stage name for musician Niff Nawor) is described as a dark synth pop outfit, which for followers of Dais Records will have an idea of what to expect judging from their past releases. Backed by pulsing synthesizers, dance beats, and a dark atmosphere, Riki delivers melodies and lyrics of romance across 8 tracks. The record fittingly released on Valentines Day. 

With not a huge body of work, Riki only had a few singles out before the release of the debut album. Fans had to wait as single after single came out to really get a feel for this record, and what we are left with is another homerun for the dark synth genre and of course for Dais Records.

The record begins with the opening track “Strohmann,” which can be translated from German into a multitude of things, but one that sticks out being “scarecrow,” which, given the theme of romanticism and the upbeat 80s inspired synth pop/dance track, could only mean to be interpreted as such, a love song. The drum track leads right into a futuristic sounding synth line that blends elements of synth pop, and also darkwave music that came out in that era. The angelic almost ethereal type vocals reminisce that of the Cocteau Twins, only this time with hints of the German language embedded within. “Napoleon” is a song of love and admiration with an upbeat synth track rocking around an array of poetic lines of Riki espousing her love for the man she calls Napoleon. “Böse Lügen (Body Mix)” is entirely in German with a darkwave backbeat, in a much different tone than the previous track. This track translates into “Wicked Lies” and takes on a more sinister darkwave/industrial vibe. Track 4 “Know” continues the darkwave/industrial sound of the previous into a more heartbreakingly sad sounding song, while heightening up the ethereal vocals found on the opener.

In summation of side A, the record takes the listener down a mostly dark path of love and desire, with dark backing synth hits, and vocals that complement an atmosphere of love and loss. 

Side B hits off hard with “Earth Song,” which is a straight up 80s synth-pop banger. A driving back beat, an upbeat vocal track, and it’s a recipe to get the listener on their feet after a crushing A side that felt like the world was coming crashing down. “Spirit of Love” again relies on a deep bass track to carry the darkwave vibe, but giving a more optimistic hope of love, especially with the lyrics to the verse, “to live in this moment is the spirit of love…what keeps us from morning it’s the spirit of love.” “Come inside” takes a turn instrumentally with a darker sounding track, which shifts the mood only momentarily as the record concludes with “Monumental.” This closing track attempts to break the downtrodden thoughts of love lost, with hopefully optimism. 

What this record is are eight tracks of beautifully crafted synth pop that blend elements of dark wave with romantic lyricism, a fitting description with its coinciding valentine’s day release. This ends up being another homerun release for Dais Records, and also generates a ton of excitement for what Riki will do in the future. Be on the lookout for future tour dates!

For Fans of: Body of Light, Xeno & Oaklander, Tempers

Side A:

  1. Strohmann
  2. Napoleon
  3. Böse Lügen (Body Mix)
  4. Know

Side B:

  1. Earth Song
  2. Spirit Of Love
  3. Come Inside
  4. Monumental

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