I took a punt on this one, a speculative approach by the artist via the website, and I’m glad I did.
It’s different for sure, both musically and lyrically.
What caught my eye was Nicolay Løvvold’s comment, “I mostly do rock and metal music and I’m really into fusing those genres with classical elements and synths. I’ve been told that a lot of my music harkens back to industrial metal, and for me, music has never been about the fastest, longest and most elaborate guitar-licks possible. I do however appreciate suspense and build-up.”
With my particular interest in symphonic metal, which ticks many of the boxes pertaining to the above paragraph, and also in suspenseful music generally (I religiously followed Arcade Fire for their first three albums, and they were the masters of build-up, come down and build up again) it is right up my street even though I had to break a rule that we don’t usually feature a song that’s more than a month old and ‘Latika’ dates back to January.
Actually I was offered a choice of two songs but the other one, ‘Golden Globe’, which I did listen to, concerns “a giant nuclear blast and what that might look like” which I thought might perhaps be too close for comfort right now.
The best effort I can make to describe ‘Latika’ (a name) is that it’s a little rock opera of its own.
The story is of a man who covets a girl he can’t have. Yep, we’ve all been there – another box ticked. Because of his misguided view on how such things work, he pursues the woman with completely the wrong ideas and it doesn’t end well. Two ticks.
He says he wrote the song “because I often come across articles about a lot of stuff that women have to put up with.” (To which I suggest he checks out – irrespective of his politics – two female American commentators on social media, Jedediah Bila and Candace Owens, who are blessed with the ability to see the whole relationship conundrum in perspective and from a male standpoint).
You might call the ‘stuff’ they analyse more “Too me” than “Me too”.
But enough of that.
There are some tasty lines in it, if you’ll pardon the pun. ”Latika, bet you taste like erotica/and I’ll attend the feast.” Then, “If she won’t be mine and mine alone/I’ll have her on my steady throne/until I hear her moan.”
I say old boy, steady on!
Let’s face it; you never had a chance of pulling Latika like that mate, not in 2023. And she’s a siren anyway, straight off the Lorelei rocks, as he acknowledges in the final lines:
“Like a mirage apparent just for me/you had me spellbound, little devil/fair being the purest creation/seducing me straight into oblivion.”
Musically, it’s all over the place, in the nicest way. ‘Latika’ starts off with him warbling like Youssou N’Dour or Papa Wemba before an almighty guitar chord introduces the metal bit, which lasts for the most of remainder of the six-minute song.
In his PR he told me that someone had told him the song sounded like something Rammstein might make and I have to admit there is a flavour of the old Neue Deutsche Härte industrial metal in it. But as it progresses there’s more in the way of melodic symphonic metal I reckon (think Epica/Nightwish/Within Temptation), and from quite early on, too, with a strong melody contrasting with throaty, chunky guitar.
And vocally he channels Nightwish’s now retired vocalist Marco Hietala in both the singing and speaking roles. If I were Nikolay I’d be inclined to enquire discreetly if they’re thinking of filling the vacancy.
And the surprises aren’t over yet. For the final minute of the song it takes on a distinctly prog rock context, with a vocal that could be Ian Anderson or Peter Gabriel in the final throes of one of their frenetic creations.
I wasn’t expecting to write this much but ‘Latika’ won me over completely. What I don’t know is who plays the instruments. He is a producer so must know a lot of people who aren’t credited. Or perhaps he played them all himself. That would be quite a thing.
Find him on: