Ela Minus Builds Tiny Worlds of Shimmering Pop on ‘Adapt’ EP

Lead Photo: Courtesy of Ela Minus
Courtesy of Ela Minus
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On SoundCloud, Ela Minus labels her music with the hashtag #tinydance, and there is just something so incredibly accurate about that. There’s nothing really diminutive about her electronic pop songs, but their intricacy makes them feel like miniatures. Each one is arranged with precision, but feels handmade, like a table-top Zen garden in which the final touches have been gently put in place with a pair of tweezers. Especially on the Colombian electronic producer’s new EP Adapt., the relatively low BPMs encourage you to sit back and contemplate the details of the tracks. There’s room enough between beats and synth notes to observe every one as a separate entity and the clarity of the production makes them seem like three-dimensional objects.

Listening to the songs is nice, but what you really want to do is shrink yourself down to their dollhouse size and walk or dance around inside of them. This is especially true of “A.R.P.,” with its varied mosaic of unidentifiable samples and interwoven synths. “Ceremony” is the most typically dance pop track on the album, but the building layers of beats, synthetic strings, and other parts make for a fascinating landscape. The only exception to this on Adapt. is “I Wish I Had a Hat,” which is muddied by noise and noises, and driven by a mechanical beat. Blocky and linear – almost industrial – with repetitive vocals, it’s no place to play, but it is a refreshing break from the organic musical fairylands that the intrepid sonic experimenter usually spins out of her custom gear collection.

Both of Ela Minus’ brief (three-song) EPs so far have one lapidary creation that demonstrates what she can do when she goes for gloss and pop perfection. On First Words, it is the shimmering “Jamaica,” and on Grow it is the lunar “Volcán.” The four-song Adapt. is no different; its gem is “Juan Sant.” A resonant, percussive synth functions as both bassline and beat, giving the song a wonderfully tactile quality while the producer’s voice mingles airily with sparkling synths somewhere in a higher strata of the track. There is a feeling of lightness, but also a strange kind of gravity and tension. It’s like experiencing pop on the surface of another planet.

Fans might be frustrated that Ela Minus so far prefers to release music only a few songs at a time, but when every one is a small world of its own, it’s hard to complain. The best thing about Adapt. is that its four mini-worlds are so different from each other, representing distinct ideas and indicating that there are more ideas where those came from. Without a doubt, in time, she’ll have many tiny worlds of pop for us to explore.