by Shanti Sadtler
My initial reaction to Pamela Martinez‘s self-titled EP was that it sounded too much like Björk, Lamb, or Portishead. I was pleasantly surprised to find, however, that Pamela and her band brought something new to the table. Instead of sitting down at a synthesizer or a mixing board to produce their electronic sound, the band actually plays real instruments (imagine that!), and they’re not experimenting with the usual suspects, but instead experimenting with classical stringed instruments. If you just looked at the back cover where who-plays-what is listed, you might not know what to expect from a mixture of vocals, violins, viola, cello, bass, harp, marimba, drums, and electronics. The superimposition of the classical strings and the modern electronics, as other bands have proven before, proves for a vibrant sound, given the right ratio.
Pamela Martinez takes the concept further in “Formless Scientific” and “Inzolen” by occasionally allowing the strings to come out in a full symphonic array without a heavy electronic glaze. They allow the natural, reedy quality of the strings to ooze over the synthesizers, which beautifully complement the electronics (whether gritty or languid).
Martinez has cohesively embraced her classical roots (she’s played the violin since the age of 10) and adopted them to a modern sound without falling into the usual, boring trappings. “Tangled Thread Drama” perhaps best signifies this exploration of the self. The track parallels a message of personal soul searching with an image of a galactic voyage. The sound creeps up your spine and resonates out to your whole body, sweeping through your head, ears, shoulders, arms, and fingers. The whole array of the track and the entire EP is powerfully poignant.