Kate NV - WOW (RVNG Intl)

Kate NV – WOW (RVNG Intl)

In the last days of the Anthropocene, while big-corp sponsored rockets head to Mars fleeing a burning planet and others hunker down in underground caves to upload their consciousnesses to the Cloud, what will be on their playlists? What will that last mad burst of colourful, sensorial hedonism sound like? If anyone can guess, it’s Kate NV.

One of several eclectic projects by Moscow-based artist Kate Shilonosova, including Glintshake and Decisive Pink (her exciting new collaboration with Dirty ProjectorsAngel Deradoorian) Kate NV’s fourth album, WOW, is an exercise in boundless creativity. While it shares some DNA with 2020’s Room for the Moon, the differences are stark. Where Room for the Moon seasoned its alt-pop with a sprinkle of dark new-wave synths, WOW is more like a never-ending gobstopper of rapidly changing, intense electronic flavours and textures. Song titles and lyrics (when there are any) are assortments of Russian, Japanese and English. Kate NV’s main language here is non-verbal, non-human even, expressed through a deluge of sampled voices, cat noises and wobbly instruments. There is an interchangeability between subject and object throughout, rather like her personal hero Nobukazu Takemura, whose music takes childlike perspectives inviting us to let go of preconceptions.When it works, as on the fizzy J-pop simplicity of ‘oni (they)’, it is thanks to Kate NV’s disarming naïveté and positivity. ‘Confessions at the Dinner Table’ is another curiously charming head-spinner, with its Nintendo burbling bass and playful sax and violin interventions. Kate NV throws in rattling milk bottles, chattering teeth, vocal pops, bells, liquid splashes and comb tooth guiro effects into the middle eight, all of which explode with joy, even in the tracks most dissonant detours.

The moments when WOW might overstay its welcome, for example the repetitive tinkling bells on ‘Mi (we)’, are entirely dependent on your electronica irritation threshold. Shilonosova’s vocals more than make up for any trouble, though, with intriguing sampling on ‘D D Don’t’ and ‘Razmishlenie (thinking)’ . A barrage of minced words and alveolar trills are transformed gradually into intersecting, mesmerising rhythms. By comparison, ‘Flu’ hallucinates itself into a more regular sounding instrumental, driven by feverish flutes and surging congas. ‘Meow chat’ rounds off the album delightfully with more video game chirruping, lazy flatulent trumpets and atonal guitar playing. By its end the internal logic of WOW is clear. Kate NV takes a wabi sabi approach to making music, where everything has a place and finds itself, where nothing is ‘broken’, ‘fixed’, or wrong. This is all part of, as she says, a commitment to “accepting randomness.”

WOW is something of a palate cleanser. It’s a good album to step into when you’re saturated by sameness, or feeling uninspired. That’s because there is no apparent intention behind any of it. We’re not made to want to dance (though we might in parts), or to cry (but there is melancholy) or to consider life’s deepest questions (there’s no room for that). It just is what it is, and that is enough. Blip, bloop, blip!

‘WOW’ is released 3rd March via RVNG Intl.

Photo: Jenia Filatova


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.