Heka’s new EP swan songs is a collection of tracks about the end of love. It is reflective and beautiful to listen to and there’s the low-level hum of melancholy vibrating from within the songs. I was utterly captivated by heka’s previous EP, 2021’s (a), and swan songs does not disappoint.

Everything is constructed from the simplest of ingredients, all exquisitely placed in the songs. Understated guitar strummed or picked, the muted thud of homemade beats, the tick of electronic sounds keeping gentle time, plus washes of treated sounds that eddy around the arrangements.

At the core of all the songs is heka’s exceptional voice. It does not need to be wrapped in effects to hide any imperfections as there aren’t any. Unadorned and perfect it sounds like heka is singing inside your head, something which complements the introspection of the EP’s subject matter. This is especially captivating on the track ‘monkey’.

Of the track ‘i don’t move, i’ heka says “It was inspired by a particularly dramatic night I experienced years ago, but when I started to write about it, it morphed into something else: a reflection on the universality of a certain type of detachment that is as human as compassion, a refusal to be moved and therefore move towards others. I wanted it to read as an admission of guilt as well as an accusation of a kind of behaviour that I don’t think anyone is completely innocent of.

heka calls her music “butchered folk” but for me, the minimal arrangements and sonic experimentation work as the corporeal and the ethereal with heka’s voice bridging the two worlds with mesmerising effect.

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Review by Paul F Cook

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