Through nothing but silky melodies and rhythm, Onra has created an album that brings the best of fantasy and reality into one singular source.
Through melodies and rhythm, music has the honor of being one of the only forces to truly make one feel as if they are in two separate worlds – almost like the body is grounded in reality but the consciousness in an imagined world. By utilizing those tools, Parisian artist Onra has created a soundscape that showcases just that – worlds colliding – with his latest album: Nobody Has to Know.
Released via All City Records on 02/16/18, Nobody Has to Know is the continuation of Onra’s 2010 release Long Distance. Sharing a similar sonic beat, Nobody Has to Know’s future funk sound harks back to the electric synthesizers of the 80’s and early 90’s for rich, silky beats that create a sound that is both dreamy and full of excitement.
Listen: ‘Nobody Has to Know’ – Onra
Onra is known for his combination of synths, hip-hop, funk, and R&B – all of which make for a vivid experience told through heavy instrumental and little to no vocals. The listener’s mind becomes sparked, exploring spaces and stories that are filled to the brim with lush detail. When vocals are included, however, they are short samples that never complete themselves, allowing for what would normally be hip-hop inspired hype man burst to turn into an emotive, stirring signifier. Those attributes permeate throughout the album by way of its theme of a secret relationship and all that goes into it.
With the track “Secretly,” the listener is introduced to a hazy beginning as if someone is on a forbidden path. As the song progresses, this story of secret love is beginning to make itself clear. The rolling bassline and booming drums beats allude to the feeling of suspense, and although this relationship is forbidden, it never felt so right. This feeling of love can only be suppressed for so long, and as the track continues it all begins to burst wide open, allowing for it to come to pass.
The album closes with “All The Time” which contains echoed samples throughout, giving the track a subtle hint of R&B fusion. The sparkling melodies allow the listener to venture outside of themselves into a space in which past relationships are shown. As humans, we desire what is just out of reach, but in this space, all of the items in which one has only been able to dream about can be carried out. Is any of it real, though, and if not, what is the harm in trying to make it so? These thoughts float around as the heavy drums and funky bassline carry the listener to the end of the track. And just like that, the journey is over, leaving the listener to wonder about the realities of a deadly attraction.
Onra has crafted an album that explores the ups and downs of human emotion through a stylistic warmth that is seldom heard by today’s artists and producers – and all done with almost no vocal work. Silky 80’s synth melodies and rhythm are the driving force behind his work, and his comeback nearly a decade later shows a matured sound that sets him as a distinguished player in the industry.
So pop the album in, venture forward with your late-night escapades, and enjoy as fantasy and reality clash together. We certainly will.
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📸 © Dan Shepherd