Delving Deep Beyond the Surface

By Dallas Williams
Music Journalist

Artist: Su Na
Album: Surface
Label: Su Na
Release Date: June 3, 2016
Website: www.su-na.com

What lies beyond the surface? Most would say heart, soul, sorrow; any of which the depths can never truly be discovered. Just as this is true in the metaphysical, it is true on Su Na’s EP Surface. Su Na, the moniker for producer Alec Ness, crafts futuristic R&B that ebbs and flows from your ears to your soul.

The EP does a fantastic job of showcasing Su Na’s talent as a producer and songwriter. The soundscapes created on Surface are a bit familiar but still unique. The backdrop of each song relies on the steady kick of drum machines and the all too familiar rhythm patterns of hip hop. It’s the subsequent layers on top of the drum machine that set Su Na apart. He manages to add complexity in the most delicate of notes.

Throughout the EP, you’ll hear clear soft guitars, shimmering chords and crescendos that lead to an unexpected pause just before Su Na and the singer relieve you of your anticipation; all contrasting his smooth buttery melodies.  

In this world of future modern R&B, Su Na fits alongside the likes of Ta-Ku and Galimatias. Like his contemporaries, Su Na’s melodies really shine when matched with the right singer. With four featured vocalists, it’s the three women who best compliment his music.

“Tell Me,” the opening track featuring singer Ravyn Lenae, is a perfect introduction. The song opens up slowly, drawing on your every breath, waiting in anticipation for the first note sung by Lenae. Without force, Lenae gently guides you through the song.

The beauty in Su Na’s music is that the story unfolds at every level, immersing you in the soundscape. The melody shifts and changes, the vocals are always steady but earnest, the lyrics put words to what the music is expressing.

“Depart” is the second to last song on the EP. It’s placement is not happenstance. As the EP comes to an end, Christine Hoberg, the featured vocalist, sings of longing and separation. I’m not sure if the melody was created to match her voice or Hoberg was asked to match Su Na’s melody but both compliment each other in the most heartbreaking way. Both showcase and enhance the subtleties of a departure.

Surface begs you to listen and look beyond first impressions. That being said, the first impression was pretty dang good.

Holly Henrichsen

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