Noé Solange Contemplates Freedom in Ethereal Trip-Hop EP ‘Bound’

Noé Solange

Noé Solange’s welcoming moods on Bound offer a comfortable familiarity in stressful times. There’s a mass of noise which grows steadily throughout the title track. As Solange whispers enigmatically, repeating “I can’t hold on too long” in the choruses, you know that you’re in for some mid-90s Bristol vibes as the song reaches its climax. So it goes for the rest of the EP – clean, prominent melodies contrast the opaque background hum. Bound is produced to perfection, boasting a soft-edged, unchallenging sound.

The pick of the bunch is ‘Nocturnal Lady,’ a song which allows Solange to explore the range in her voice, with less studio trickery for a purer sound. For all the pleasant artificial noises on Bound, it’s Solange’s voice which is the main draw on this EP. She’s at home with the swirling storm as much as with the quiet drops. There’s a background refrain which comes through from the shadows to lead the song between verses – a delightfully simple reward of compositional creativity.

What’s ultimately compelling about Bound is that it takes key elements of downtempo electronica – Arpeggiation, fuzzy synth pads, muted percussion – and winds them round unorthodox structural concepts to bring freshness to these tired tropes. Bound is a compact, airy selection of songs that drift around the room, never coming in to land.

‘Invisible Handcuffs’ brings a change in pace for the final track. Cutting through sharply with samples of news reports about the COVID-19 pandemic, this song jarrs you awake after 15 minutes of dreaming. Solange observes the horror and destruction of 2020, how the powers that be have worn “Invisible handcuffs” pretending not to see “what we know.” It’s more direct than the rest of the EP, giving a different flavour to the end of a record which gets a lot of mileage out of mysterious lyrical imagery.

Listen: Noé Solange – Bound