VaNi, essentially the project of German singer and writer Bianca Stuecker, sounds like little else you've heard. Less imaginative fans might compare Stuecker to Bjork, especially on "Lebendkontrolle," which sets her fluttering vocal melodies over a pleasantly pulsing electronic beat, but Bjork is too often weird just for the sake of weird, whereas Stuecker's mixture of glorious harmonies with more abrasive electronics seems to serve more of an actual purpose, contrasting womanhood at its most soulful with machine at its most clinical on "Kinderfaenger," for example, and deliberately blurring the lines between eroticism and discomfort on "Electricution" by switching effortlessly from a seductive coo into a nasal twang while analog synths clang monotonously in the background. A more apt comparison might be The Knife, who also slip all sorts of subversive attitude into relentlessly dance floor-friendly synthpop tracks, but where their music is often political, Stuecker's is unapologetically personal. Anyway, it's tempting to dissect VaNi's music on an intellectual level; isn't it always that way with artists who sing in German? But such a critique would belie the obvious fact that these are some gorgeous songs, whether or not you bother to listen to the words, let alone translate them. Stuecker's got a pretty extensive background in Medieval music, and that shows up especially strong on the lovely "Bones Are Fragile," with delicate vocals playing in point and counterpoint over a sensuous bass groove. Only album outro "Tiere Am Pool" fails to impress with its looped moans and groans, but nine gorgeous songs and one rather goofy outro still counts as a marvellously successful album. Slick, smart, beautiful, and dance floor-friendly; synthpop doesn't come much better than this.
Get VaNi-fied at www.get-vanified.de.
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