Dead Air

Dead Air

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This atmospheric EP is the debut from Dead Air, otherwise known as Rainy Orteca, a singer and multi-instrumentalist who has worked with Antony and the Johnsons and comedian Sarah Silverman, and is the bassist with Joan Wasser's Joan as Police Woman. For all their lush ambiance, the six songs here are propelled by simple, pulsating, 808-style beats and concise synth lines, all of which serve as a framework for Orteca's vocals. For the most part, she doesn't so much sing as intone, occasionally slipping into a melodic refrain. The codeine cadence of her beat imagery is often mesmerizing -- Dead Air would no doubt crush all comers at the local poetry slam. Orteca rides the groove of the leadoff track, "Elephant Decision," with a pitch-perfect, disaffected recitation, betrayed halfway through by an aching sigh. Every departure from spoken word territory into melody is a blissful release, and this pattern keeps up through the majority of the EP. But when the fifth track, "Forever," comes around, Orteca soars through the whole song in a refreshingly poppy, early-R.E.M. kind of melody, dressed in fuzzy low-end bass and an absolutely wild drum track. This is an entrancing, low-key debut, concise and perfect as an EP-length release.