Bred from new age mysticism and the dark embers of life comes Dol Ikara’s debut EP, Obsidian Ritual. Baptized in her moniker, Claire Roddy pulls her teachings in music from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and etches the lifeline of memories through poetry that engulfs the entirety of the debut — and for the Los Angeles-based artist these two halves sit well within the Gothic subculture. Yet, the 6-track collection is more than a simple nudge towards the Goth sphere, but an articulated craftsmanship of troublesome waters once traveled with a Zen undertone. kara then carves her own clarity from fragmented words, ethereal waves, and post-punk stylings that while are beautiful, at times may muddle the EP’s own clarity.
Dishing out only two singles before her debut, the direction the artist would showcase for this project seemed to be uncertain. Last year held a spectacular soundscape on “White Queen” which illustrated Dol Ikar as a voice who wasn’t afraid to mess with heavy connotations and sounds, knocking on the door of the tangibly disturbed. The strength of this track resulted as an isolated confinement that could very well allude to a separate stage on the artist’s upcoming full-length to follow in the coming year.
For Obsidian Ritual, though, the taste was served with “Sparrow.” A gothabilly-inspo recital that casually flaunted on the EP, but brewed with empowerment on its own. Lines such as “deep in a history, cauldrons and curtains and crowns” became subdued throughout the ominous instrumentation, subsequently leading towards a more appreciative stance for the track’s production. Justly demonstrating Dol Ikara doesn’t recite her penned lines, but relives them better on a multi-sensory field, heard prominently on “Idyllic.”
Peeling back the singles, Obsidian Ritual goes through the motions. Rather than simply setting one dark mood, Dol Ikara’s tracks seek relief and inflict pain. “Bon Road” opens the EP to a very broad atmosphere and thematic score. It reads naturally and flows with the same poise, a design that allows Roddy to bare more than one genre. Showing its teeth briefly with a furious guitar scuzz as the outro, the juxtaposition of vocals becomes a personal favorite.
“Black Flower” then follows and comes as a hypnotic confidence. Guitar patterns lean towards the psych-rock genre to overpower any wind of darker shaded context, but we still can catch wind of Roddy’s “sinful whisper” that elevates curiosity. Vivid in her execution, despite coloring in the lines with variants of black and gray, these consistent and contrasting details harmonize each track together.
Horror-punk waves fitting lead into “Residual” which are guided with a heavy bass welcoming. There’s persistence in the track, almost a lingering, as a result of a slow build. Tribal, bass drum kicks add to the ritualistic ceremony and peak within the final stretch. The small window of audible frustration showers “Residual” with the perfect amount of doom that I wish I could bathe in, similar to its closer “Stone Towers.”
The 6-minute waltz of “Stone Towers” romanticizes what Obsidian Ritual contains. Each goth-rock lick and aged, theatrical chord resurfaces for a final curtain call. Roddy’s vocal range caters to the myriad of moods embodied on the track. Aside from the melodic nature that speeds up time, here we find Roddy’s strongest portrayal. It feels complete in its classical telling from the beginning to the last bewitching key compared to other tracks.
As the obsidian stone calls for a better understanding of one’s self, Dol Ikara creates her own healing sphere. Materializing her own light and dark that caters to a gloomy, and sensual palette, the artist’s debut is strong. Opening the door to a multitude of avant-garde sounds yet to be utilized, there’s an obvious enchanting glow from Dol Ikara.
Be sure to catch her live in Los Angeles, September 9 at Zebulon supporting Rain Phoenix’s residency.