When Ana Roxanne originally released her debut EP, ~~~, in 2015, she didn't tell anyone. Speaking to Bandcamp, she later explained it was for fear of the response it might get. How would people react to such a deeply personal work—full of hushed vocals, field recordings and soothing electronics—that she had poured herself into? Last month, Matthewdavid's Leaving Records released ~~~, giving an opportunity for all to peek into the Bay Area artist's secluded sound world.
~~~ begins with "Immortality," a sustained synthesiser drone and gently rising vocal slowly giving way to a spoken word section anchored around Roxanne's soft intonation of "I was only dreaming." It's reminiscent of Grouper. But where Liz Harris's vocal work conjures the chilly winters of the Pacific Northwest, Roxanne's soundscapes radiate Californian warmth. On "Slowness," oscillating melodies sit behind pinging electronics, before "It's A Rainy Day On The Cosmic Shore" rounds out the EP's nature-leaning first half. The pitter-patter of distorted droplets fades into lapping waves, then disappear further beneath simple synths.
The EP's second half turns its gaze inwards. "Nocturne" foregrounds Roxanne's vocals—partly inspired by Hindustani music and singing—with graceful results. But the EP's final two tracks are its most powerful. In the same Bandcamp interview, Roxanne discussed being intersex, having not shared this information publicly until last October. "It feels like I was always singing in code with these songs," she said. Heard in this context, "I'm Every Sparkly Woman" feels like a private assertion of identity, her refrain of "every woman" cutting through the track's shimmering arpeggios.
The EP ends with "In A Small Valley," a collage-like field recording constructing what sounds like a domestic scene. We hear family conversations, a radio playing R&B, wind chimes and more lapping water. It's an intimate, life-affirming conclusion to a quietly affecting release.
A3 It's A Rainy Day On The Cosmic Shore
B2 I'm Every Sparkly Woman
B3 In A Small Valley