The irrepressible Nuha Ruby Ra returns with second EP ‘Machine Like Me’. It is a record that will render you unable to stare at patterns on your low-cost linoleum floor for too long.
Having sounded the klaxon with her sizzling debut ‘How to Move’ in 2021, the Bedford-born artist takes genre-bending to another level on her new six-tracker, released via Brace Yourself Records.
A dystopian punk ethic swirls round and round this collection, hooking us on a drip feed of moody bass and Nuha’s signature inimitable haunting vocals. ‘Self Portraiture’ has been out and admired for some time but embedded in a full body of work it takes on new life. Complimented by the other tracks, a sense of Stockholm Syndrome comes into focus, colouring its wordplay with evocations of a form of social captivity.
Nihilism is central to the Nuha Ruby Ra songcraft – exemplified particularly by ‘6 In The Morning’. This standout track sports a war-cry beat, with brazen brass and a dousing of guitars over ferocious words. In the shadow of Nuha’s delivery, the listener feels personally accused as that dishevelled but defiant reveller who has stumbled out to the night bus at sunrise but isn’t done yet. Indeed, the character goes as late as ’10 in the morning and my cat has given up’ in one memorable lyric late into the song.
Dystopic visions bind to delirious existentialism in ‘Slicer’. Following this, listening to ‘Rise’ feels like a musical equivalent to watching someone watch ‘Black Mirror’ on their phone two seats away from you on a train. It is that unnerving feeling that Nuha Ruby Ra slips under your skin: you are never given full access to what you’re hearing about, but your curious mind chases it, forced to imagine the remaining lurid details.
Closing the EP, ‘You Never Know’ delivers an uneasily spiritual feel, like an echo of Alice Coltrane. It is a testament to Nuha’s refreshing unpredictability. This minimal piece, where vocals dissolve into instrumentals, could trace the walls of an exhibition on post-modern permissiveness.
Truly, all of Nuha Ruby Ra’s output has a powerfully physical presence, conjuring vivid spaces and scenes. The six tracks of ‘Machine Like Me’ illustrate her incredible vision and artistic confidence. It will be one of the most unique and commanding collections you hear this year.