Momo‘s Intl Style makes me think immediately of paneled glass—windows that bring outside light into a building while still reflecting it back, texture that is at once surface and depth. And when I close my eyes and listen to the EP, I hear it as if it’s reverberating all the way across a windowed exterior, shifting as I shift the side I listen from.
Momo’s sensibility as a producer drives all four songs on Intl Style. The bass drums fall like heavy drops of water, snares ripple outwards, and when her voice doubles underneath or above itself the split feels like we’re submerged somewhere in-between. There’s texture in the smallest of gestures (the cascade of white-ish noise on “16 Billion” or the decay of the scraped-out synth hook on “Shonda Rhimes”), which makes the large gestures feel even grander. “Shonda Rhimes” starts with a plucked and melodic bass loop, and the song grows different harmonics that keep overtaking the initial line. They undermine the mood, overturn it, and then become the floor for the next movement.
Momo’s last release before Intl Style—a two-song single of “mic lips” and “chalet II”—came in summer 2013. I remember driving around Los Angeles in late August, windows down, letting it blast. Part of the joy in playing those songs so loud was maximizing their efficiency: the compositions are so restrained and meticulous and the louder you play them the more maximal they become. It’s the shift from head-nod-and-knee-pat to full-body-wobble.
The same holds for Intl Style, especially in its slower moments. “A Novel Light That Changed” unfolds over a bed of near-flute synth sounds, and Momo trades phrases with cascading sheets of strings. Not much changes in the arrangement until halfway through—Momo ventures into a different key for a moment—and when we slam back into the main melody it becomes clear how powerful it’s been the whole time.
Momo’s music has always been something I return to for its intricacy and its ever-evolving rewards. I still notice new small things on every listen, and then they reframe the entire song. As I sat down to write on Intl Style, I started to hear the arpeggiation in “Young In Tempo” starting from a different place than before. And then what I first heard as a percussion stab on “Shonda Rhimes” reveals itself as melodic element, stretching in dissonance as the bass note shifts. Every time I look and listen from a new place, the music shifts with me.
Intl Style is out now via Art Not Love.