Ever since her first release, 2010’s Ceja de Carnival/Kosmic Lovers 10,” BFlecha has dedicated herself to creating a world of her own. On the surface, her songs seem like synthetic escapist fantasies, but if you let them absorb you, you might return to real life afterwards knowing a bit more about yourself. Up until now, the most accomplished proof of that vision was βeta, her 2013 debut album, which earned critical praise for her brand of sci-fi R&B. Now, with her second album Kwalia, the universe she’s built hasn’t really changed, but instead is enriched with more stories, experiments, and influences that broaden her sound and vision.
In philosophy, the term “qualia” refers to the subjective properties of experiences. The Galician artist, whose real name is Belén Vidal, collided the word with the name of the Kenyan city of Kwale to create the neologism Kwalia. It’s an imaginary place we can only reach through an inward expedition – where we go to slow our minds “to find ourselves and what we can become,” as she explained to NEO2, in the context of a world plagued with overstimulation and instant gratification. With that in mind, the album’s space-age interdimensional travel isn’t an escape from reality, but a reflection on it, as we project our own subjective experiences on BFlecha’s work.
“Zigurat” kicks off the album, a driving and exhilarating introduction to its shimmering trap-pop adventure; in the catchy chorus, she reveals she’s going to enter another reality, and we’re right there with her. Over a heavy hip-hop beat and clubby synths, “Rutas Circulares” finds Vidal looking to break the loop of quotidian life. Technology is at the center of “Sinfín,” which features a spot-on feature from El Guincho, plus additional arrangements from Delorean’s Igor Escudero (aka Ho$oi). They both sing about apps and their digital footprints through heavy auto-tune filters, resembling a distant cousin of HiperAsia.
Vidal co-produced Kwalia alongside frequent collaborator and Arkestra Discos co-founder Mwëslee, who helped her round up her ideas and compositions, resulting in a pristine record where no texture seems gratuitous or out of place. The peak experimental moment comes with the title track. It is upbeat and vibrant, and features almost-marimbas that connect the album to an earthly influence. “Chuang Tzu” features an unexpected source of inspiration: Chinese culture. She borrows parts of Chuang Tzu’s Butterfly Dream parable to create a stunning piece reminiscent of Janet Jackson’s “China Love,” with the left turn of a vocal melody that mirrors traditional Gallego folk songs.
Tracks like “金剛の (Kongô No)” and “Apnea,” her take on the UK underground, complete the 2017 update of BFlecha’s universe – a constantly expanding yet always familiar galaxy of celestial sounds.