Under Review

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Stefana Fratila

Efemera

Trippy Tapes / Summer Cool Music

author
Theano Pavlidou

Imagine a crack in the ordinary course of events, a mutation of time: genes falling out of the past. The present and the future merge. There they are, George Maciunas, Yoko Ono, and Nam June Paik sitting on the floor. They try to breathe new life into the Fluxus manifesto, sourcing their inspiration from the constant stream of pixels and audio data projected all around them. The walls are playing Stefana Fratila’s latest album, Efemera: its Neo-Dada character constitutes the ideal background for the gathering’s purposes. Fratila (composer/lyricist/performer) picks from a sound cornucopia of different origins, textures, dynamics, and lifespans that obey one rule: anarchy.

Close your eyes and you can touch the antique clock’s winding keys in “Pixel Plant,” the drops of metallic water hitting the sink in “Heartland,” the cello scratches and the stretching muscles around the theremin’s spine in “Ghostjail.” You can smell the oils oozing from the salt rubbed on your neck in “Tugging.” You can taste the intention behind the sometimes out-of-tune vocals. But you cannot always be certain of where on earth they are coming from. A girl or a woman? Is it a high priestess mumbling prayers or a poltergeist casting spells? Soundwise, Efemera brings out a pattern of disorder defying any conventional aesthetics; like in “Interlude II,” where balkan-esque drumbeating is stitched with threads of western electronic noise. Lyrically, the album is also built upon absurdist contrasts but in a manner of primeval eroticism and modern mysticism that trim off any of its rough edges. Read between the words of Efemera to discover timeless messages about humanity and existence. The scattered hints of irony will guide you through.

Stefana Fratila’s new album is a multi-sensory experience, weird and chaotic. In this way, by rebelling against conventional, standard, or common music elements such as melody or harmony, it can open the door to the anti-art Art. Of course, nobody can be totally sure of what the artist has in her mind, even when she writes down the album’s title. Efemera is a homophone of the word ephemera meaning things lasting no more than a day; Efemera is a cactus full of psychoactive agents, the effects of which can last more than a day: you’re gonna love it or hate it, nothing in-between.