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On Deck: Saa

By ; July 19, 2013 at 10:54 AM 


A. Levitas of UK experimenters Old Apparatus and Oslo singer Linn Carin Dirdal found themselves drawn together into a symbiotic musical pact when they created Saa, an avant-pop outlet for his decidedly complex rhythms and her gently intuitive vocals. Basking in early 4AD dream pop tendencies, along with more recent experimental electronic proclivities, Saa are steeped in their own influences while never feeling anchored to any particular set of sounds. Wobbly dub movements coexist peacefully with layered choral vocals and bright pop production–with each distinctly striated level of music interweaving in an amorphous musical landscape. The duo has just released their self-titled debut EP of surprising and remarkably fractured pop music on London-based label Left Blank.

Recently, Dirdal and Levitas took some time for Beats Per Minute to write about a few of the records and songs which have helped to influence their own unique approach to music. Even a cursory glance at Saa’s broken pop aesthetic reveals an attention to, and reverence of, multiple genres of music. And so their choices reflect the inner workings and processes of their musical collaboration. From the velvety rhythms and melodies of Sade to Todd Rundgren’s psych-pop extravagance, Dirdal explains how different musical textures and ideas have affected her personally. While Levitas talks briefly about some of his favorite tracks from Wu-Tang alumnus Raekwon and Deep Medi artist Quest. It’s interesting, but not so surprising, to note that Saa’s sound lies at the intersection of these artists and their respective genres. Read what both Dirdal and Levitas have to say about these disparate influences in the latest installment of our On Deck series.

Todd Rundgren – A Wizard, a True Star
Linn: Todd Rundgren – A Wizard, a True Star

I’m a big Todd Rundgren fan. Every album he’s made is like watching a million ideas unfold. You have to spend time catching them all, and so you never tire of his music. Or at least I don’t. He’s a wonderful singer, a brilliant songwriter and a great lyricist. He could have just sat around singing lovely songs in his lovely voice, it probably would have earned him greater fame and fortune. Instead he seems adamant to always try new things and directions, making beautiful, bonkers and truly inspiring stuff as he goes – all represented on this album. And that solo at the end of “Zen Archer” would win any sax battle!

Raekwon - Ice Cream
Asher: Raekwon – “Ice Cream”

Only Built 4 Cuban Linx might be my favourite Wu Tang album after 36 Chambers. Although I don’t listen to it much now it definitely made me want to make music when I first heard it – a good five years late I think. Killer beat this one.

Sade – Stronger Than Pride
Linn: Sade – Stronger Than Pride

I found this on cassette when I was nosing around my big sister’s room, I must have been eight years old or something. I remember listening thinking it was a sneak peak into some swish grown-up world happening outside this small Norwegian town I lived in, and I couldn’t wait to be part of it, hehe. Anyway, that was my introduction to Sade, and I’ve listened to them/her since. She’s a great singer, her vocals are so smooth! Add some slick tracks and breezy synths… What’s not to like.

Quest - Smooth Skin
Asher: Quest – “Smooth Skin”

Probably my favourite Deep Medi release. Nice sunny vibes.

Moondog – A New Sound of an Old Instrument
Linn: Moondog – A New Sound of an Old Instrument

Probably one of my all-time favourites. I listened to it probably every day for about a year after I first discovered it, and I keep coming back. There’s something enthrallingly meditative about this album, like there’s more to it than what you hear. And the organ lends itself so elegantly to the repetative compositions – notes spiralling up and down, like moderen versions of Bach or something. It’s like entering a different sphere, it’s escapism. I like it when music has that effect.

Saa’s self-titled debut EP is out now on London’s Left Blank label.

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