Polish singer and producer Erith invites listeners to a city of dreams on her second album Miasto Snów, out now.
Martyna Biłogan first stirred attention in her native Poland some six years ago with her folk-infused bedroom pop songs uploaded on YouTube and SoundCloud under the moniker Erith. Wandering the woods with her bare feet and plucking her acoustic guitar, she kept to the typical singer-songwriter image, even though her sound already reflected lights coming from much farther away than a campsite fire pit.
Indeed, Erith also seeks inspiration in elements of Asian cultures and the vastness of the universe. By the time she was compiling her debut album Speed of Light, released in 2018, she had leaned heavily on synthesisers and computer production. Even as she wired up some of her early songs, she managed to maintain their earthly ethos, seeking to carve out a niche for herself that she proposed to call alien folk. Singing about walking her dog in outer space, she flickered between devices and instruments onstage with the speed and elegance of some intergalactic fairy.
Three years after Speed of Light, Biłogan follows in a similar vein with Miasto Snów – “a city of dreams” in Polish – and once again employs her immediate sense of playfulness and her rich fantasy. Earthly gardens and cosmic galaxies have collapsed into her dreamy soundscapes, synthesiser herbage sprouts from under glimmering shatters, and a sirenic voice lures the lone listener into this balmy pocket of the universe. Erith embarks further into electronic realms, fluctuating between techno beats, pop melodies and an occasional ambient moment here and there, leaving the listeners to marvel at the luscious softness of her world.
The opener “Niewiele Mnie” hushes you straight to the dancefloor with its dark undercurrent of a beat, atop which sits an imaginary palace with imaginary walls echoing the laugh of some translucent mystical beings. Energetic “Wyobrażenia” asks for the minimalistic dance we didn’t get to practice since the clubs closed, and “Cud” starts as a swiftly pulsing pop banger, drawing from a palette of assertive ohs and sensual ahs. Halfway, however, the singer abruptly pulls the brakes, and the track transmutes into a reflexive afterthought in the second part, ending with a broken tape glitch.
While Speed of Light was mostly in English, with only a handful of Polish tracks tucked in-between, on Miasto Snów, the ratio has turned in favour of Biłogan‘s native language, inviting you to relish its melody and the soothing softness of its vowels. “Morskie Potwory” revisits the theme of space travel, which, in the spirit of surrealism and unbridled imagination that is typical of Erith, includes turtles and wild cats flying overhead and dwelling with sea monsters in the ocean: “By giving ourselves up completely, we turn into miracle foam.” Let me not disappear is the wish Erith pronounces on “Żebym Nie Zniknęła”, singing about a spaceship flying outside her window, while “Czarna Dziura” sucks you into a black hole if you let yourself go.
Themes of acceptance and belonging resurface in the album’s quieter, gentler moments. “I don’t, I don’t know, where is my place,” Erith breaths out on “You”, as if she were slow dancing with a memory of the person she’s addressing. On “Nie Muszę Już Nic”, she ponders not having to do anything anymore. “Need to Be” is a delightful tune which raises the question of where one belongs once more: “Stay the same but different if you want to be here if you want to be.” Reiterating the song’s central line: “Sometimes, I need you to verify the space I’m in,” for most of its second half makes it instantly memorable but leaves you wishing it would progress into some grander finale.
As all pleasant dreams that pass quicker than one would hope for, Miasto Snów offers just over half an hour to let you wander through its lush alcoves. While it might seem less inventive, replicating similar patterns as its predecessor, the album does provide a safe hideout from the world out there, which is now more than ever highly welcome.