Pure-O, the new LP by Berlin-via-Norway musician Kari Jahnsen aka Farao, is a prog-pop exposition on the curious dichotomy between beauty and destructiveness in sex and relationships. Where so much modern pop attempts to tug similar thematic threads only to succumb to naiveté and euphemism, Jahnsen grabs these subjects and dives headlong into a neon pool of synthesizer, zither, drums, and soaring vocals without sacrificing maturity, complexity, or artistry. Musically, she references 90’s R&B, and the untapped goldmine of Soviet disco. But the most important pillar of Pure-O-- its living, breathing, biological quality-- is entirely Farao’s own.
To be sure, all of the electronic ingredients are in the exact right places on Pure-O. Soviet-made synth tones ripple out from an undefined center like a Frank Stella painting, with sharply angled lines of color buzzing with concentric, hand-painted ecstasy. Rolling vocal melodies carry descriptive turns of phrase to gratifying heights, echoing in listeners’ minds long after their ears. In the spaces between all this electricity, there are shimmering microcosms of Alice Coltrane-esque acoustics that provide the album with an unmistakably rich, tactile marrow.