Published Feb 17, 2020Classically trained, yet club-ready, Ema Jolly (aka Emika) is one of the most interesting and unheralded figures in music today. A melding of Czech and British heritage who found a home in Germany, her first couple of albums for Ninja Tune struck a vein of brooding vocal dubstep before she launched her own label in 2015 with Klavírní, an album of minimal solo piano compositions. Ever the creator, Jolly has since released her first symphony, 2017's Melanfonie, two more electronic-based records and given birth to her first child.
Klavírní Temná marks the end of a particular chapter, and possibly the beginning of a new one. While the style and title are direct references to her first album for her own imprint, "klavírní" meaning piano in Czech while "temná" means dark, it's also the last album to be released by Emika Records. At the time of this writing, she hasn't announced what she has planned next, but given her limitless creativity, it's bound to be something incredible.
Recorded at her home studio in Berlin while she was pregnant, Jolly made Klavírní Temná "in a state of ultra hyped-up creativity combined with a massive fear about losing [her] identity or creativity as an artist once [she] would become a mother." Afterwards, she dedicated the album to her daughter. Having heard it from the inside first, her daughter apparently knew it so well that after she was born, she walked in on her mother listening to a test pressing, touched Jolly's stomach and said, "Mummy." The sound had become as comforting as her mother's heartbeat, a veritable extension of her aura.
While the rest of us may not have such a personal connection to it, Klavírní Temná is distinctive. The improvisational piano melodies of each dilo (moment) float along unhurriedly, awash in subtle, atmospheric effects, like Erik Satie if he traded absinthe and Parisian cafes for an opium den and a laptop with Logic pre-installed. It balances an ominous feel with moments of ethereal enlightenment, gently fractured by digital tweaks like a tattered flag on a forgotten pole. As a headphone listen, the emotionality of it all is almost overwhelming. Someone needs to give her a feature film to score. (Emika Records)