Liam Murphy

November 14, 2022

Tracks in this feature

Tracks in this release

A release that carries an enticing feeling of benevolence communicated through poetic vocals and bright, imaginative production

Paprika dives straight into ominous instrumentation as LANTAU 爛桃 begins. keep moving 綺夢’s skulking beat is soothed only partly by an uncanny spiralling birdsong. The artist places each part ornately around an empty space at the centre of the mix, these parts pushing up against the shrouded centre point gently and on occasion. Paprika’s voice reaches the furthest, its presence bolstered by a low, almost subconscious rumbling. There is an immediate presence and power in the track. The lyrics begin with a defiant command, Paprika willing the listener forwards. “Keep moving, with smoke.” The words are whispered cautiously into the ear, as if the artist is giving secretive commands as a looming and intimidating place slowly recedes in the rearview. 

The striking opener to the EP sets an almost menacing emotive tone that is all-at-once inverted by thirtieth 澀提. “Scroll back all the way to the beginning memory leaks, glitches, unsorted, incomplete,” these lyrics causing the image of a smartphone camera roll to spring to mind. Memories that bear a gentle humanity treated with the coldness of the digital age, but Paprika does not present it as this. With caressing melodies that push past delicately revolving synths, an atmosphere of warmth and nostalgia floods through the soothing track. The listener, therefore, does not see these images as lifeless, phone screen fodder, but as evidence of joy and a source of warm nostalgia. The listener is also treated to the artist’s vocals in a clearer tone this time, not obscured by a bass-y accompaniment. The track unfurls, like a flower, into a beautiful poem. The artist warmly recounts the life-affirming experience of some sort of crash where those involved came away with their lives and insurance money. A location is also mentioned in what sounds to be a touching goodbye following a scenic trip along the southernmost point of New Zealand. These memories are laid out lovingly with lulling lyrical ventures in between. 

Breathtaking glissando piano steers us towards the end of this brief sonic journey, Paprika combines a soulful melody with simplistic 808 beats. This soulfulness is vivified with sparkling keys. It feels as though, after the initial two outings into which the artist poured touching vocals, here – on a track ironically called unwritten 暗與 – they take an opportunity to let the instrumentation do the talking with a bouncy – yet still slightly sombre – beat. Deeper, more organic drums gradually take over giving the melancholy piano a sense of determination. Through this percussion, Paprika allows a heartfelt looped vocal to wade. There’s a sense of effortlessness, that this closing track is an unplanned rhapsody that blossomed naturally, with a conclusive energy begging for it to be attached onto the end of this refreshingly creative EP.

Exploring feelings of fear and hopefulness with grace and an unswerving vitality, Paprika’s LANTAU 爛桃 is a real showcase of creative power. Though the tracks all exist in very much separate spaces and are presented with different moods, the artist’s endearing energy is evident in all three of them, whether that be through charming vocal performances or detailed rewarding production.