The Groove Seeker: Andreya Triana’s Lost Where I Belong

By Michael Nolledo
October 19, 2010

On a weekly basis, The Groove Seeker goes in search of killer grooves across rock, funk, hip hop, soul, electronic music, jazz, fusion, and more.

Andreya Triana: Lost Where I BelongAndreya Triana: Lost Where I Belong (Ninja Tune, 9/7/2010)

Andreya Triana: “Far Closer”

[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/06-andreya_triana-far_closer.mp3|titles=Andreya_Triana_Far_Closer]

With her debut release, Lost Where I Belong, soul singer Andreya Triana transitions from being a go-to featured guest vocalist to a full fledged solo artist.

The Brighton-based songstress has been favored by left-field producers and beat-makers such as Flying Lotus and Mr. Scruff, offering a distinct voice that points back to the deep and sensuous tone of Nina Simone. Under the production supervision of fellow Ninja Tune multi-instrumentalist and overall groove peddler Simon Green, a.k.a. Bonobo, Lost Where I Belong places Triana’s soul and folk-inflected vocal-jazz style under a well-deserved spotlight.

In 2006, Triana traveled to Melbourne as one of 60 chosen participants from all over the globe to take part in the Red Bull Music Academy, a two-week music workshop that sets up headquarters in different musical metropolises every year.  It was there where Triana linked up with Flying Lotus to record the track “Tea Leaf Dancers,” a tune that caught the ear of Bonobo and the Ninja Tune family.

After signing with Ninja Tune in 2009, Triana toured North America and Canada with the Bonobo live band, developing a musical chemistry that was then taken to the studio.  As the two went to work on Lost Where I Belong, Bonobo was putting the finishing touches on his early 2010 release, Black Sands.  The two projects coincided with one another as Triana become the only guest contributor on Bonobo’s most ambitious work to date, supplying the album’s only vocal elements.  “The Keeper,” “Eyesdown,” and “Stay the Same” have all been drawn out of Black Sands and released as 12” singles with respective remixes from Warrior One, Redeyes, and (if you haven’t heard it enough) Flying Lotus.

In a way, Bonobo and Triana are a perfect match, taking presence from similar sound palettes.  Bonobo, since his beginnings in 2001, has slowly changed from sample-based production to more live instrumentation, showing noticeable growth in creating a well-layered quality to his music.  Triana’s airy, soulful tone naturally fits into this expansive sound, creating an atmospheric quality that comes off as mature and developed.  As opposed to hard-line vocalists who have pledged allegiance to a certain scream-and-shout brand of soul, Triana’s vocal style represents a softer approach.  From the thick, seductive voice that is sometimes so deep it’s inaudible, to her sustained and powerful falsettos, Triana shows a restraint with her melodic deliveries.

Recorded in Green’s studio in East London, Lost Where I Belong is a project of live instruments and samples that progress into an organic mixture.  As the title suggests, Triana’s lyrics hold a certain poetic self-observance.  They then are matched by Bonobo’s vision of what it means to be musically introspective.

“Draw the Stars,” the album’s opening track, sets these visions in play as a delicate marimba-led percussion trapezes its way to the foreground.  Triana’s voice stays tender as the song progresses into an orchestral sonata of epic strings.  And though the next track, the album’s title song, shows the more upbeat and pop-inclined side of the singer, it becomes clear that Triana is most commanding when she’s able to play with the deeper octaves of her voice.  Green is able to emphasize this strength, tailoring tracks with a lot of intimate space and open-ended arrangements.

The two come together in beautiful fashion in “Far Closer,” a deeply grooved track where Triana sounds most comfortable.  If there was any doubt before, the track shows Triana’s potential to convey emotion with subtle elegance that is reminiscent to Sade.  It is all complemented by Green’s infectious bass line and overall sparseness of production, lending enough room for Triana’s breathy voice to explore the contours of every crisp snare hit.

Furthermore, Triana’s unpretentious manner is essential to Lost Where I Belong.  Throughout this short nine-song offering, the soul singer never overdoes it.  She is able to take a motif used by so many artists, the “journey” to find one’s place in the world, and make it her own. But more importantly, she makes the longing for companionship sound believable.

By Michael Nolledo October 19, 2010
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