In a world that has been devoid of equal representation and recognition of female electronic musicians for far too long, Nina Belief has been manifesting a deft and sophisticated dark brand of minimal synth pop since 2008. Her latest LP effort "Shivers" is a curation of elemental yet vital compositions, and like most of her work is built around richly textured analogue synthesizer sequences and arpeggiations animated by poetic vocal indictments. Valiantly exposing herself, Nina confronts the excesses of vice, heartbreak, and the act of contemplating morality with the persona of a prophetess weighing justice blindly from within a shadowy place.
Not to be taken as a token representative of her gender, Nina demonstrates an artistic vision of a seasoned veteran. With sage sensibility she dishes out a wide spectrum of coalescing instrumentation and catchy phrasing. Her concepts are cogent and developed. "Color of White" is one of those tracks you'll catch yourself singing after a few listens. The infectious chorus "innocence is white" crowns a theme that metaphorically implies as we grow more aware of our world, we also lose our innocence and become those things imperfect about it. Dark and in reference to the futility of life Nina doesn't whine but rather chooses to arm her audience with reality.
Musically Nina's machines do not control her, and that is never more evident than in the song "Kora Cries" which may be the LP's masterwork. Drum machine, bass sequencer, and synth lines fire on all cylinders for a dynamic foundation instrumentally reminiscent of work by The Neon Judgement. Anthemic choral cries of "she cried out" and "oh oh" act as a sort of exhortatory siren to the song's principal "sister Kora." It is here where Nina makes snap decisions in her syncopated arrangements and use of effects allowing herself to get the most out of her vehicle.
"Shivers" sheds a bold ora, but there are awkward moments akin to having hit a place in a personal conversation where the truth must be spoken no matter how uncomfortable. A sort of jarring or disjunctive bump in the road. This stems from the fact that her lyrics are more like poetry both in delivery and in literary quality. Not since the work of the late great Lydia Tomkiw has an artist juxtaposed poetry over drum machines and synthesizers with such personalized style as Nina does with "Shivers." While she is actually singing, the phrasing and meter often ride a fine line between a poetry reading and an incrimination that simultaneously projects outward while revealing her soul inward.
In the end "Shivers" really is a wrestling of Nina's inner strength against her own vulnerability. Making no pretense about carrying that around, she bravely never misses the opportunity to take the listener to that tenebrous domain where her heart can be revealed.
by Mark Lane
Artist Link: https://www.facebook.com/Nina.Belief