Keeping Afloat: RONiiA’s Self Titled debut

by Sam Hawkins

Born out of some sort of surrealist vision, RONiiA’s eponymously-titled debut album ferrets through the cavernous expanse of a folk infused electronic setting, and wavers between the decidedly dark and the surreptitiously sanguine.

With a lingering ominousness, mapped out on synth and a surly soundboard, the instrumentation succeeds in circumscribing its listeners into a headspace of its own. Like a shroud wrapped around a body, it withdraws you from your senses and replaces them with a selection not wholly familiar to those experiencing it.

And while at times the record’s spacious composition can leave one feeling lost in a kind of weightlessness, vocalist Nona Marie Invie works effectively as a tether, letting us ride buoyantly on a sea of ambient surf and not ever failing to keep us afloat.

Opening with a steady combination of snare and kick, the soft ebbing of keys on a track entitled “Last Word,” already has its listeners being carried out on a languid tide. Invie pierces each track with her own brand of mystified crooning, establishing herself as a point of light throughout an otherwise damp and dissonant publication.

On the album’s second track, and maybe its best, “Bellz,” Invie sings, “Let my ears fill with water/Let my sweat turn to algae/The fish eat it off me.” While no doubt hauntingly vivid and bewildering in its own right, RONiiA exhibits that even in some of their more bizarre lyrical content, there is solace to be found. In the same way a bedtime story might put one at ease, Invie’s voice, overtop an electronically induced melancholia, inspires a vague sense of hope, rather than leaving us to carry the burden of something bleak.

And on tracks such as “Fool’s Game” and “Shadow,” the production of which is defined by a series of soft-spoken inputs, Invie comes through like a figment, like a siren on the rocks, and we want nothing more than to submit to her intoxicating song. In this expression, the synthesis of incongruent shades is made explicit, and we can see the spoils of an imperfect union.

Even at their deepest and most desolate, RONiiA is well aware of the surface in which they float, and are certain to provide the raft that saves from drowning.