Review Summary: Sirens' song from space
Finishing as a runner-up in the Swedish version of the television karaoke contest “The Voice” in 2012 isn’t exactly the most likely origin story of an artist who taps into the darkwave/gothic sounds of the 1980’s. Since then, Nicole Sabouné has undertaken a journey of self-discovery, intending to detach herself from these past affiliations, and has become dedicated to exploring uncharted territories in the darker realms of music.
Conceptually based on a classic 1956 poem by the writer Harry Martinson, entitled “Aniara”, it tells a tale of a dystopian future where humans are forced to board a star ship in search of a new home after unintentionally orchestrating a cataclysmic downfall of Earth. Knocked off course, the star ship hurtles into oblivion and the inhabitants are forced to accept they are doomed to extinction. The twist in Nicole Sabourné’s interpretation of the poem is that her second album, “Miman”
, showcases different perspectives from the crew members, made up by Nicole, of Aniara’s voyage. Additionally, Miman is an actual character who represents the ship’s A.I, storing humankind’s memories on the ship’s computer system. However, Miman dies of grief when she realises what humans have done to Earth.
Gliding, serene and isolated atmospheres are a crucial in creating expansive soundscapes. To evoke the sensation of being deserted in the infinite vastness of space, Nicole incorporates various electronic and synthesiser arrangements in “Miman”
. The alienating sounds in ‘Right Track’ collide together in a tense, constricted manner that suggests a discomforting and anxious viewpoint from one of the crewmembers. Yet, this is contrasted when the anxiety splits into a spacious, breathable and soothing ending. Considering each song is a different viewpoint, other sentiments are unearthed throughout the album. Cheer is presented in the jazzy ‘Rip this World’ and ‘We Are No Losers’, where the simplistic drum beats and pulsating synth offer more confident standpoints.
Rather predictably, Nicole’s soporific vocal presence is the brightest star in this journey. She expresses a fantastic range of abilities that gravitate towards a dark and sombre aesthetic, even during the lightheaded and softer aspects of the music. Offering clear clarity to her vocals, with notably less echoing, she compliments the lonely, lugubrious bass-driven ‘Bleeding Faster’ to create a monochromatic quality. Controversially, “Miman”
begins forebodingly as some undulating chants and groans appear on ‘The Body’ to represent humankind praying to Miman- the character- after naming the A.I as their new goddess aboard Aniara. The finest example of just how catchy her singing can be appears in ‘Lifetime’. It relies on a gothic nature, but Nicole romanticises these dark vibes with a compelling chorus, angelic chimes and ethereal ambience. Every song on “Miman”
induces a wondrous sense of completeness, especially as each song naturally unfurls onto the next.
may be built upon the foundation of a 60 year old poem, but its context is eerily applicable to modern life. Rather than learning from the messages that Aniara describes, humanity is more fragile than ever. In a world where the helpless are ignored, the rich are in control and heartless restrictions are enforced, “Miman”
offers an open-minded and affecting lamentation to a species that, one day, will have to come to terms with the fact that their predestined extinction is of our own making.