Listen to "023 :: FOUNTAIN" on Spreaker.


Fountain Baby by Amaarae, released by Interscope Records in 2023. Listen / Buy direct


I loved this music from the moment I heard it, from the very first notes of its opening melody, with its haunting oscillation between dominant and tonic, and this ghostly choir of distant voices gradually surfacing amid a groundswell of strings. And I'll admit, I can't quite say what it is about this music that enthralled me so immediately, or what strange magic flows within these sounds, but I knew, instinctively, from the moment I heard it, that this would be music like nothing I'd ever heard before.

This song throws so much at you all at once, it's hard to know where to begin, but let's start with the rhythm. The beat is all syncopation, hitting hard on the one and then subdividing the rest of each measure in a mix of threes and fours. It's urgent and aggressive and unrelenting, like waves crashing down on you while you try to gasp for air.

Then there's the percussion, which forgoes the typical pop and sizzle of snares and hi-hats in favour of an ensemble of pitched drums and rimshots, lending an acoustic warmth and energy to a song that is otherwise a club banger.

But what we really need to talk about is this voice: this whispery soprano that, for all its delicacy, stands toe to toe with the drumline and somehow commands the whole performance. It's not at all what you'd expect, especially for a song that's so raw and raunchy, with such memorable lines as "I want to fuck a puddle" and "I'll Lindsay a Lohan".

But that's the beauty and the genius of this song. It's absolutely singular in its sound, and it all works because it says it works, because it fully commits to being fully itself, and because it knows that it's an unstoppable force of nature.

And like nature itself, it can change in a flash, turning from a downpour into a drizzle, as light as raindrops bouncing off your skin. Now, everything feels playful and buoyant, as bouncy as the bass synth and as feathery as the harp's arpeggios. The music has metamorphosed from a heavy rain into a misty vapour, while somehow remaining, in its essence, the same. This is a multitudinous music – music that can, at one moment, inundate and overpower, and then, in the next, refresh and rejuvenate.

And that's why it's so fitting that the overarching metaphor of this record is water, in all its elemental guises. It floods and it cools. It drowns and it hydrates. It makes waves and cuts canyons. It gives life and brings death. It's the sweat on your chest and the shower on your face. It's a symbol of tranquility and a symbol of devastation. It's a symbol of arousal and a symbol of rebirth. And all the same could be said about this music. It overwhelms, it revitalizes, it makes us wet. It's an unending stream of musical styles and ideas, cycling between countless different forms and textures, swelling and receding, ebbing and flowing, spilling over in abundance, and ultimately leaving us to float on its endless fathomless sea.

Liner Notes

Amaarae did an absolutely killer Tiny Desk Concert in June 2023, presenting a very different and refreshing take on the songs from Fountain Baby.