Review: Myra Davies – Sirens

MOA21_frontThe motion is fierce. The electronic beats of Gudrun Gut and Beate Bartel power through time like tanks on cobbled roads, inexorable, hitting bumps of syncopation and slips of synth trigger-finger that kick me off axis but fail to slow the vehicle down. Myra Davies is dragged along with such force that her words often only capture vague or contradictory details, articulating sensations that blur past like platform-loiterers seen through the windows of passing trains, registering as fleeting, sensational teases (“…blowing of kisses, clatter of heels on the rickety stairs…”), conjuring a heart-led allure that we don’t have the time nor cognitive space to question, let alone understand. We tumble headfirst into ill-fated love and hopeful illusions of the divine afterlife. The beat hurtles forth, boisterous to the point of undanceable, as I try and rationalise Davies’ world through a veil of travel nausea.

In a personal note accompanying the record, Davies talks about the push-pull that pits emotional intuition against itself: “Come hither. Stay away. Such isometric emotional dualities can drive a person around a post like a work donkey. I question such ’native’ impulses and the Romantic notion that emotion is the seat of authenticity, our true core.” On “Sirens Call”, the beats become stranded and empty, combed by dissonant drones that sweep back and forth in search of life, as Davies speaks of how the fantasies of love and freedom are manipulated to lure the unwitting into subordination or danger. Her tone is often monotonously subdued, wryly akin to those smartphone voice assistants that rise unquestioningly to the behest of impulse, recounting narratives of white male insularity and domination in the New York avant garde (juxtaposing the boundlessness of John Cage with sterile sexism), or the inflation and obliteration of Hollywood dreams in airport departure lounges, or the systematic tolerance and victim-blaming in cases of spousal abuse. “We all need to move on for the greater good of society,” she urges during closing track “Noutiné”, channelling the insidious rationale that the status quo is always preferable to ruffling a rancid equilibrium. Sure enough, the beat pushes me right on past. There’s no time to question it.