It’s easy to forget just how experimental experimental bass music can be in the EDM world because most experimental stuff are offshoots of established EDM genres. If there are classical or experimental elements, they tend to still go along with the structures fans will recognize. In the case of Venezuelan vocalist and songwriter XI.ME.NA, her operatic voice is front and center in her new EP Before You but that doesn’t make it any less danceable.
XI.ME.NA has a huge amount of training but also a lot of soul and her vocals are important because, in addition to all of that training, she writes original compositions straight from her heart. Before You was written as an homage to becoming a mother and to her child. In the artist’s own words and verse:
A year ago today⠀
I became a Mother⠀
These songs talk about ⠀
Who I was before (“Before You”)⠀
Who I have become (“There’s Me”)⠀
And how being with my son has me constantly flying high (“High Moments”)⠀
It couldn’t really be stated better, except in her lyrics. Even if listeners don’t relate to the message, however, the emotive quality of her operatic vocals and harmonies are stunning and pack a punch, even when the beat in tracks like the title track and the jazzy “There’s Me” are quite minimal.
The beats and sounds in the EP shouldn’t be discounted, however, and aren’t covered up by XI.ME.NA’s extraordinary vocals. With clean, ambient and stark production by experimental and EDM heavyweight Joe Rogers, much of the beat is analog. The electronic sounds come through in this production, especially the ambient space. It’s still cool and groovy in spots and may remind listeners of FKA Twiggs with a heavier Kate Bush influence.
In addition to future bass, there’s trip hop, jazz and progressive rock in Before You so it’s danceable but also relatable across many genres. These tracks could be thrown into a DJ set or listened to at a blackout party but no matter how to hear it, Before You is gorgeous and pitch perfect in both sound and build. Consider it bass music that’s really an experiment, not just an offshoot.
Before You is out now and can be streamed on Spotify.