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MEMBA display power and grace on newfound artistic concept EP, ‘SAGA-II’ [EP Review]

ODESZA‘s Foreign Family imprint is always worth paying attention to. Their roster is stacked with the likes of RÜFÜS DU SOL, Big Wild, Jai Wolf, and more, so the hits just keep coming. Packing a distinctive and popular style that spans multiple genres, the label always does a commendable job of promoting burgeoning newcomer talent while solidifying the reigns of their heavy hitters.

Brooklyn production duo and promising label signees MEMBA have continued their rise with the release of their SAGA-II EP. The new EP offers seven songs that convey life on SAGA-II, “a planet of newfound awareness where people accept life and death as they are, using it to live better now.” The cohesive effort is also a definitive musical statement following last year’s three-track SAGA-I. The pair have managed to fuse modern dance music with ancient rhythms, natural sounds, and evocative use of the human voice. This powerful combination lends itself to a unique flavor that fits perfectly alongside the ethereal, ecstatic tones often set by their aforementioned labelmates.

The opening track, “1 More Mile,” sets the tone with intense tribal drums and bumping bass, which leads well into “Walls Down” and the absolutely striking third track, “Boundless.” MEMBA’s strength is clear at this point: stunning melodic textures mixed with clean, powerful bass, and elegantly produced drumwork. This pattern continues through the record, weaving through tribal electronic sounds and dreamy electronic pop influences.

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Their usage of the human voice throughout the project is excellent as well, and the track “Schools Out” features vocals in both Sufi and in English. MEMBA went to India to film a video for the song that features children from the Dharavi slums. They also recorded many samples along the way that are used in the record.

Ishaan Chaudhary, one half of the duo, explains the relevance of going to India and using the Sufi language in the song:

“Listening to it makes me really nostalgic for my childhood in India. It has both Sufi and English vocals, which doesn’t happen in enough songs, in my opinion. It’s how I always wanted Bollywood songs to sound and reminds me of running around with my little sister. She was dealt a lot of shit hands in life, and yet had an amazing ability to stay happy throughout. That really inspires me to this day and we wanted to capture that feeling in this video.”

MEMBA shows excellent growth on this record and shines a light on the parts of the world that most need it. Unifying opposite sides of the globe, featuring children and sounds from one of the world’s most immensely storied cultures, and fusing the modern with the ancient all make this seven-track effort an outstanding listen.