Visit Outer Space with Spellling’s “Mazy Fly”
Under the moniker Spellling, Tia Cabral makes music that is nothing if not original. The best word I can use to describe it? Extraterrestrial. While she has obvious pop and R&B sensibilities, Cabral twists these telluric ideas into something that comes from another planet. Her atmospheric and at times haunting music expresses her artistic individuality in a way that is entirely unique.
With her second full-length album, Cabral grabs the listener’s hand and pulls them into her world. From the first moments of the project’s opening track, “Red,” it becomes apparent that Cabral’s feet are not planted firmly on Earth. Instead, she drifts through the never-ending cosmos and explores its allure, emptiness, and trepidation. Something that makes Spellling such an impressive artist is how she manages to find a balance between beauty and malaise. No track quite accomplishes this like “Golden Numbers.” Characteristically minimal, this song finds Cabral singing about love over an eerie and delicate guitar line. Enveloping background vocals add to the pretty nature of the song, while strange detuned synths dart through the track and disrupt its occasional peace. At times, “Golden Numbers” turns completely silent, fluctuating in tempo and allowing instruments to duck in and out of the mix. However, as she chants “I’m ready to love” in the last 30 seconds, we become aware of the absolute grandeur of the piece as well as the entire album.
While achieving this equilibrium of beauty and malaise, Mazy Fly also attempts to balance the ethereal with the concrete. Floating through the stars for most of the album, Cabral occasionally makes a surprise landing. In tracks like “Haunted Water,” “Under the Sun,” and “Dirty Desert Dreams,” we’re taken to a nightclub on Mars where aliens with tie dye and bell bottoms get down on the dance floor. Other tunes like “Hard to Please (Reprise)” and “Afterlife” showcase some of her R&B influences. Still, the temporary stability gifted to the listener throughout the album is just too few and far between. While the music gives a unique sonic experience, it fails to cement itself on the ground long enough for the listener to reach out and grab it. Cabral’s haunting and dynamic singing pairs extremely well with her minimal yet complex tracks, and her celestial instrumentation establishes her as a truly unique artist. Spellling would make an incredible intergalactic popstar, but unfortunately, her work is lost in space when given to such an earthly audience.
Edited by John Wright