Ana Roxanne – Because of a Flower (2020)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 39:01 minutes | 352 MB | Genre: Ambient, Electronic
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © kranky
The sublime songs comprising New York-based musician Ana Roxanne’s second record, Because Of A Flower, germinated gradually across five years, inspired by interwoven notions of gender identity, beauty, and cruelty. She describes her process as beginning with “a drone element and a mood,” then intuiting melody, syllables, and lyrics incrementally, like sacred shapes materializing from mist.
The experience of identifying as intersex informs the album on levels both sonic and thematic, from spoken word texts borrowed from tonal harmony textbooks to cinematic dialogue samples and castrati aria allusions. It’s an appropriately interstitial vision of ambient songcraft, a chemistry of wisps and whispers, sanctuary and sorrow, conjured through a fragile balance of voice, bass, space, and texture.
Despite a background studying at the prestigious Mills College in Oakland, Roxanne’s music rarely feels conceptual, instead radiating an immediate and emotive aura, rooted in the present tense of her personal journey. She speaks of the flower in the title as a body, singular and sunlit, as many petals as thorns, an enigma beholden only to itself. But whether taken as surface or subtext, Because is a transfixing document of a rare artist in the spring of their ascension.
Los Angeles-based musician Ana Roxanne has a background in sacred Catholic choral singing as well as R&B and jazz vocals. She grew up participating in church choirs throughout her childhood, and additionally enjoyed singing karaoke versions of ’80s and ’90s R&B hits at her family gatherings. A revelatory trip to India exposed her to classical Hindustani music, and it inspired her to finish her music studies at Mills College. She privately issued ~~~, a six-track set of lush analog synthesizer drones, rippling melodies, and airy vocals, which included “I’m Every Sparkly Woman,” an ethereal interpretation of the Ashford & Simpson-penned anthem made famous by both Chaka Khan and Whitney Houston. In 2019, shortly after Roxanne began publicly identifying as intersex, ~~~ was given a wider release by Matthewdavid’s Leaving Records, immediately garnering critical acclaim. Because of a Flower, her second recording and first for Kranky, further explores themes of gender identity, beauty, nature, and space. A trippy spoken word piece introduces the album, with Roxanne’s multi-layered, pitch-altered voice describing the yin, the yang, and the spirit of harmony. “A Study in Vastness” seems like an exploration of both inner and outer space, as her weightless voice floats over loops of calm vocals folded into glacial synth pads. She sounds detached and lonely, but also fully engrossed in the process of finding herself. “Suite pour l’invisible” is another expression of duality, as Roxanne sings of “endless sorrow, endless joy” over a soothing, gently paced keyboard sequence accompanied by minimal guitar melodies. The lo-fi ambient soul of “Camille” is Roxanne’s most pop-informed composition yet, as she dreamily sings of romantic yearning over blipping drum machine beats, interjected by French dialogue samples. “Venus” is a guided meditation focused on water, and how it crosses boundaries and generously heals all. The sounds of rushing currents and distant thunder supplement sparkling keyboard tones and her swelling, breathtaking vocals. Roxanne’s music is balming and refreshing, yet also reflective of an intense spiritual and physical journey, and Because of a Flower is a quietly powerful encapsulation of the progress she’s made. – Paul Simpson
1. Untitled (00:50)
2. A Study in Vastness (06:50)
3. Suite Pour L’invisible (07:01)
4. – – – (05:15)
5. Camille (05:04)
6. Venus (07:57)
7. Take the Thorn, Leave the Rose (06:04)