Performance Date: Friday July 19
Within the songs of Laetitia Tamko there are infinite worlds: emotional spaces that grow wider with time, songs within songs that reveal themselves on each listen. Tamko is a multi-instrumentalist and a producer, recording since 2014 as Vagabon. On her forthcoming debut, Infinite Worlds, she hones her singular voice and vision with an unprecedented clarity.
"I feel so small / my feet can barely touch the floor / on the bus where everybody is tall," she sings softly and with caution, as she begin the album with "The Embers." Driving punk drums pry her song open, exploding it into an anthem that pushes back at entitled people who make others feel tiny. "I'm just a small fish / and you're a shark that hates everything," she sings, repeating that line and over and over with strength and power. "I've been hiding in the smallest space / I am dying to go / this is not my home," Tamko starts carefully on "Fear & Force," before her finger-picked guitar playing gives way to slow-building synth claps and ethereal harmonies. "Mal á L'aise" is one of the album's focal points, a five-minute meditation of ambient dream pop, featuring Tamko's usage of samples; some are samples from a Steve Sobs song on which Tamko was featured, enticing the one writing collaboration of the album. "Mal á L'aise" means "discomfort" in French, Tamko's first language, and throughout the song she works through different meanings of that word: social, cultural, physical.
Infinite Worlds builds upon Tamko's stripped-down demos that have been circulating online and throughout the independent music community for the past two years. Her Persian Garden cassette, released in 2014 via Miscreant Records, was a lo-fi collection where she embraced a first-thought best-thought approach, making songs that began with just her voice and guitar. But here, Tamko is a main performer of synths, keyboard, guitars, and drums, at times enlisting the work of session studio musicians. This had Tamko channeling the thoughtfulness of her lyricism into her arrangement and production as well. The result is a wide-ranging eight-song collection that's pleasantly unclassifiable: hypnotic electronic collages, acoustic ballads, and bursts of bright punk sit sideby- side cohesively, all tied together by Tamko's soaring voice.
"I write a lot about places, archiving my memories in spaces that I used to be in, spaces I am currently in, or spaces I will eventually be in" she says. "Archiving different moments that I've been thinking about, have gone through. It's not always autobiographical though. It could be about different situations I've seen people I love in. Or people I don't know in. I think that comes a lot from being in different environments. Like growing up in Cameroon. There, we are happy with very little. Then moving here and seeing how the culture differs from where I'm from."