A relatively new face on the European electronic scene, Charlotte Adigéry rose to fame a year ago after featuring in a track by Belgian giants Soulwax, who have also produced her recently released debut EP “1,681 / Senegal Seduction“. It’s only been a few months since that record came out, but Adigéry seems ready to move on to a completely parallel project. Unlike “1,681 / Senegal Seduction”, Adigéry’s first release as WWWATER is strictly a solo affair. It’s also a decidedly adventurous one. Through these five tracks, she explores the boundaries of contemporary R&B while giving us a taste of her wide musical palette. “La Falaise EP” is reverential rather than referential – it pays equal tribute to FKA twigs and to the more recent likes of SZA or Kelela but it very much remains its own thing, never fully stepping into pastiche or into straight-up mimicry.
The songs in this EP range from experimental ambient music (“Presence”) to a more standard R&B sound – take the groovy “Pink Letters”, which sees Adigéry venturing into chart pop territory. But it’s at her most experimental and trippy when WWWater is at her best. Adigéry’s connection with Soulwax makes even more sense after hearing songs like “My Hands” or “WWWater”, in which she employs relatively austere instrumentation and resorts to repetition and to loops of her own voice as vehicles for creating moody backing tracks that let her melodies flourish. These two songs would definitely fit in some sort of “As Heard on Radio Soulwax Pt. 2″-like mix, but they also stand on their own as modern electronic songs, gracefully fluctuating without being held to any apparent structure. They’re both the absolute highlights in “La Falaise”, and one can only wonder what would have happened had she stayed in that lane for the whole record.
Even though “La Falaise” EP is comprised of only five tracks, it’s living proof that WWWater’s music can hardly be confined to a single genre or mood. After all, this is a short record that starts off with a three-minute spoken-word track that barely qualifies as music and that ends with a starry-eyed ballad that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Gorillaz album. It’s far from being a disjointed mess, but it definitely feels more like five different testimonies of who WWWater is as a musician than like a fully articulate artistic statement. Take “Presence”, the aforementioned spoken-word prelude. It could have served as a perfect introduction to a longer, more unified word – kind of like how the spoken-word bits in “Blonde” help the album’s narrative arc become fully fleshed out. But in “La Falaise”, this kind of track just feels overindulgent and slightly out of place, as if she was introducing a theme that is not going to be developed throughout the album for some reason.
All in all, “La Falaise” is more of a promising short album than an essential one. And that’s a perfectly fine thing for a debut release, but it can feel like a wasted opportunity at times – mainly because, at her best, WWWater is really, really good. There are sparks of greatness in it but one can’t help but feel that her songs would work better in a full-length album than in a short EP. Nonetheless, “WWWater” and “My Hands” are two of the most impressive songs released this year and “La Falaise” is certainly a captivating listen. Hopefully, it will one day become the prelude to a remarkable and intriguing career.