Imka “Manyara”

I can’t quite remember how I found Imka’s work, but his compositions built around bio-electrical signals generated from plants are, above everything else, deeply moving sonic portraits. Manyara’s gently flowing landscapes are intimate vignettes, connected through spindly tendrils and warm sun rays, collecting dust in corners we ignore lest we have to confront too many painful moments. Yet, Manyara also provides moments of otherworldly solace. These two sides make for an enchanting album that rewards multiple, close listens.

Imka describes the process on Manyara and how he used the changing environments of the plants’ environment as a guide, and took those elements and combined them with the emotions from his personal journal from when his stepmother, a botanist, passed away. This context is felt throughout the lamenting swells and shifting electronic hiccups of lengthy opener, “When You Left,” where a sense of trepidation and unease lies. Narratives swirl, a sense of sorrow blinks into existence. The spiritual connective tissue in this music aches, searching for answers and relief.

“The Walk Home” ventures down darker corridors, glitching machines hovering with searchlights while gentle synthetic piano tones tread lightly beneath. A nervous river weaves through disjointed alleys, the angular aural shapes like mental roadblocks shielding difficult truths, but a persistent determination peppered throughout Manyara never relents. With titles like “When We Decide To Let You Leave,” “Burial,” and “We Prayed,” it’s not hard to imagine the emotions these pieces are saturated with. Glassine tones reach skyward on “We Prayed,” the melancholy of remembrance an anchor. Strings glide across synth pads on “In Silence” providing space for reflection. Acceptance takes the shape of bubbling arpeggios in the warm confines of closer “Here’s Your Flowers.” 

Manyara is a long journey that’s always moving, but never easy. Imka has a way with texture that is entrancing, taking the offerings from the flora and weaving them into magical tiny universes, overflowing with feeling. Inside Imka’s world, I am lost and searching, but there are always pathways to follow and sounds to explore. Manyara is a guide to lift our spirits and reach our hands toward the sky.


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