Initial reports of FKA twigs’ (a.k.a. Tahliah Barnett) eagerly awaited third EP (and fourth release overall) indicated that it would be called “Melissa,” a word which you can still make out in the jumble of letters and numbers that make up the EP’s title. It arrived completely by surprise this morning and is already causing a sensation. Written and recorded in an apparently very fertile period after FKA twigs released her debut full-length last year, the EP shows a more muscular and concrete but no less sensual and enigmatic sound that points to some pretty quickly germinating artistic growth.
The highlights of the EP are the previously released singles, the artfully angular “Glass & Patron” and the dankly atmospheric “Figure 8,” which was a staple of FKA twigs’ live set when she visited Australia in 2014. Both songs make reference to dance and the art of vogue, pointing to a more tangibly physical aspect to her music that hasn’t really been explored to this extent before. The strange geometries of not only the dance in question, but also the music itself – full of intersecting surfaces and orbiting sonic debris – make for a fascinatingly multilayered exploration of space and distance.
The EP was also released with a 16-minute video featuring nearly all of the EP’s music set to arresting visuals, proving that nothing on the EP is filler or an afterthought. “In Time” is a particular highlight. It’s the closest that FKA twigs has ever come to a pop song, with shiny synth textures and an effervescent vocal melody, but played with a texture of discord and the alien sounds of a vocoder wreaking havoc on Barnett’s gorgeous voice. “I’m Your Doll,” and closing track “Mothercreep” stick a little closer to the established FKA twigs sound, but with a little more grime to the deep, resonant sonics.
It’s beautiful to see that with the enormous popularity that FKA twigs has gained over the last twelve months or so that she has lost none of her desire to explore and innovate. The impossible pose of the cover – at once ghostly and solid – suggests an itching desire to push the limits of possibility, not just in music, but in dance and video too. M3LL155X is the next stage in the FKA twigs story, and it’s also Tahliah Barnett showing us all of what she is capable of as an artist.
M3LL155X is out now in digital form, with a physical release to follow soon. Stream the EP’s accompanying visuals below.