“It seemed to travel with her, to sweep her aloft in the power of song, so that she was moving in glory among the stars, and for a moment she too felt the words Darkness and Light had no meaning, and only the melody was real.” — Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle In Time
“The relationship reminded me of a melody: abstract and intangible, irrational and illogical… We were enchanted with each other in a dream state.” Candidly, Nicole Turley describes the foundation of her newest and most revelatory album as Swahili Blonde, And Only the Melody Was Real.
Founded as Turley’s solo project in 2009, Swahili Blonde has always involved a varied and multi-talented collective of musical contributors across its releases—including guitarist John Frusciante, Duran Duran bassist John Taylor, Slits guitarist Viv Albertine, Devo drummer Alan Myers, as well as Los Angeles scene staples Brad Caulkins (Fool’s Gold), Laena Geronimo (Feels), and Dante White Aliano (Dante vs. Zombies). The 2015 EP release, Deities in Decline, found her once again self-producing and engineering in her Los Angeles studio. Performing everything herself (alongside the strings of Geronimo) resulted in Deities’ uniquely examining electronic triumph. The experimental, emotional feat garnered her praise from PopMatters (“art pop that remains grounded without becoming lost in pretension”), The 405 (“incredibly engaging, off-kilter machinations”), and LA Weekly (“a strangely serene shower of lightly electronicized, dubby-pop midsummer madness”), among many others.
And Only the Melody Was Real is Turley’s next chronicle in an intensely personal and powerful self-study of a breakup; capturing the universality of those painful, and eventually illuminating, experiences. “I feel more my authentic self now than ever before,” she acknowledges. “I have reached a point of balance. I have grown up. And I feel grateful and appreciative for every thing that has lead up to this moment.”
Turley confesses this was a difficult record to make, bringing in close friend Jennifer P Fraser to co-write the album with her. But she also embraces things gained from the experience, describing wide-ranging thoughts and emotions at play—“from a harsh darkness, felt deeply when disconnected from yourself; to saying 'I love you' right before surrendering defeat; to having the strength and optimism to move forward.” “On The Other Side” combines a dance beat with insightful, melodic ruminations, while “Saturn Farewell” features Turley’s vocals oscillating in a dramatic, silvery offering of a last goodbye. The album’s final track “Vous Enchanter Mon Coeur” is a fitting end—a captivating, string-laden electronic ode to the undeniable force of the ones we love upon us. But it’s also a testament to the truth that it’s ourselves who hold the most power above all: “This album is a metamorphosis, and will always be close to my heart", she says. And now, this is her in full bloom.
And Only The Melody Was Real will be released digitally by Neurotic Yell Records, January 22, 2016.