Sevdaliza Raving Dahlia Twisted Elegance
“Get me out, out, out, out, out… of here,” sings Sevdaliza on Everything is Everything. But something’s off. The hook, taken from Sevadaliza’s new Raving Dahlia EP, should serve as a pressure valve; an emotional release after the increasingly urgent lyrics and thumping beat of the chorus. Instead, it’s jarring. The Iranian-Dutch musician’s voice sounds insidiously robotic: staccato, manipulated, metallic.
This tension between the human and synthetic is a recurring theme that runs throughout the project, not least thanks to the release’s visual accompaniment: a “femmenoid” named Dahlia, which the artist has spent the last two years conceptualising. In the supporting material for the EP, Sevdaliza has described Dahlia as the perfect female artist: a counterpoint to her own identity as “a woman who does not conform to an industry standard – sonically, physically and mentally”.
In contrast to the plastic gloss of Dahlia, Sevdaliza asserts her human imperfection. On pensive trip-hop track System, failed relationships are played out in life-or-death terms: “you’re dead to me,” she snaps, before conceding, “I’ll always remember you made me feel alive”. On the pared-back Human Flow, she probes the depths of her voice, words quivering as she wrestles with her lower register. The desolate and dreamy High Alone juxtaposes heavenly, harp-like strings with fatalistic lyrics such as “I wanna go alone with you/ Even though I’ll die alone”.
While Dahlia validly speaks to the objectification that artists like Sevdaliza experience in an industry that undermines women’s talent and creativity, it’s clear that Raving Dahlia is an urgent appeal to witness this artist’s humanity – even when it feels uncomfortable.