On her debut full-length INNUENDO, the Crete-born producer and singer Abyss X smears her commanding, elastic vocals across a series of dark, fragmented landscapes. Though her voice wafted intermittently through previous releases—like 2018’s Pleasures of the Bull EP—never before has she centered or fractured it quite like she does on INNUENDO. It arcs and shatters against a menacing, minor-key guitar line and digital ripples on “Fluxuation,” as if it’s flailing about in pixelated oil; it writhes under shuddering binaural percussion on “Animosity.” Often, Abyss X harmonizes with a pitch-dropped version of herself, the processed voice shadowing the untreated one like its demonic alter ego.
Like her contemporaries Arca, FKA twigs, and Aisha Devi—as well as aesthetic ancestors like Genesis P-Orridge—Abyss X is fascinated by the many different ways a voice can break. She fries it both organically, dragging it down to the bottom of her throat, as well as synthetically, mapping coarse textures onto it via digital manipulation. With her unstable vocals and her spacious, industrial-inflected production, she deliberately troubles pop music’s usual sense of continuity. The world of INNUENDO is asynchronous and often frightening. Even in its more delicate and lovely moments, like the whispered closer “Sharp Tongue,” the album never resolves into a predictable groove. A beat skips, a note drops into a jarring key, a voice emerges and is choked away. INNUENDO refuses to yield its mysteries, or to cohere into familiar forms—which is exactly what makes it so enchanting.