Dalila_kayros Animani

Dalila Kayros - Animami


Earlier this year Dalila Kayros’ unmistakable voice already shone on the album Pyramiden by the equally unique Italian post djent (or whatever you’ll want to call them) band Syk. If you either missed that phenomenal release or just got addicted to the intriguing vocal perfomances on it - rejoice, because here comes more! And it’s a lot more, because on her new solo work Animami the vocals are front and center, left and right, and everywhere in between and all around.

Musically, however, this is a completely different playing field than the prog-metal group which in turn also leads to quite distinct vocal approaches. It’s easy to choose the regular “extremely talented but quirky female singer” option and compare Dalila Kairos to the likes of Björk and Kate Bush, even though I found her rock context performance on Pyramiden to be a lot closer to way more obscure early 1990s references like the young Scott Jeffreys of Confessor or Melanie Bock of Megace.

But now on Animami the similarity to Björk and Bush is actually there in spades. And that’s no coincidence, because this album is all about exploring the possibilities of vocal expression, be it by pitch or accentuation, by technique or emotion, by harmony or effects. Kayros is determined to go into adventurous uncharted places - and that’s a mission in which those legendary paragons have always been trailblazing. So think of Björk, but specifically think of her acapella explorations on Medúlla! And respectively think Kate Bush on her dense and recalcitrant The Dreaming!

The Icelandic comparison is the stronger one though, because it can even be expanded beyond the voice, as the experimental instrumentals, which are are very tightly interwoven with Dalila’s unpredictable multi-faceted performance are fully electronic, created in in congenial partnership with Danilo Casti, her Mark Bell, Matmos or Arca so to speak.

In eleven short movements (three minutes long on average) we are taken through various stages of accessibility, from scattered abstract noises to grandiose, almost hymn-like splendour. All in all Dalila Kayros walks a line which is very akin to Zola Jesus, but has a much stronger inclination towards conceptually driven weirdness than to pop.

The first sentence of the official album description says that “Animami is about discovering the dark side of the mind as an endless path of inner transformation.” The music reflects that notion very successfully, providing a constant undercurrent of opaque psychological horror, converting the vague uncertainty of the subconscious into sound. As a side effect it’s easy to imagine Daveed Diggs spitting some bars on each track and none of them would feel out of place on a clipping. album. (Even Kayros’ eery Freudian fever dream lyrics seem to stem from a spiritually related place and could all be envisioned in a Visions of Bodies Being Burned rap manner.)

Given this deliberate choice of artsy-ness, which is already cemented in the opener “Abyss” with its drones and uncomfortable Gollumisms, it may come as a surprise that as a whole this album truly flies by. That can partly be attributed to the tracks mostly being relatively short, thus not overstaying their welcome. The main reason ,however, is rather that those tracks contain so many interesting different sounds and ideas - and of course the focus on the artist’s always simply stunning, incredibly creative voice.

Listening to Animami on repeat makes me dream of a joined European tour of Dalila Kayros and the similarly gifted and charismatic Lili Refrain. And with both of them sharing country (Italy) and label (Subsound Records) that dream actually seems quite fulfillable, doesn’t it? Please make it so!