Adela Mede “Szabadság”

Crickets chirp the night’s song carried along by a soft, rhythmic wind. Adela Mede’s voice hovers above the millions of microscopic scenes happening in the Earth’s cracks like a full moon glowing with elemental spirit. Szabadság is an exploration of how leaning into our vulnerabilities can provoke a lasting inner strength. Mede’s vocals are the anchor of Szabadság. She is most affecting when all effects and processing is stripped away leaving the naked takes front and center. Mede has such a strong voice that it becomes impossible not to be completely drawn in.

Skittering electronics give way to a capella layers on opener “Háromszorra Jövök Össze.” When the harmonies appear it’s like windows being opened on a darkened room and the sun flooding every surface. Suddenly, everything is awake and at attention. Conversations are transmitted through broken wires and the wind returns as a snarl in our ears. These vocal patterns are so emotive and it’s an approach Mede returns to throughout Szabadság. “Na Jar Sa Všetko Roztopí” echoes in a similar manner but at a slower speed saturated with crackling static and imbued with ghostly choirs creaking through the streets with a funereal repose.

While the three interludes feel like secret transmissions from a past life, they add a richness to Szabadság that adds to its unguarded soul. Even when Mede looks listeners dead in the eye, it’s an invitation not a threat. After a minute of contemplative vocal loops and repeating synth chords, concrete rhythms snarl with an electric fury and burrow forward as the driving force on the anthemic “Spolu.” It plows ahead as layer-after-layer of vocal manipulations morph into aqueous lamentations swirling around the central, powerful melody. It’s near-perfection.

In the quieter, more pensive moments of Szabadság, the feeling of being stuck in a liminal embrace takes hold. String arrangements sing with yearning on the forlorn “Sloboda.” Mede sings with a fractured elegance. It’s piercing. By the time closer “Voda Sa Vráti Tiež” drips from silver clouds in the night sky, Szabadság has come full circle even if the destination is now unrecognizable. The song begins like a futuristic reimagining of traditional folk melodies before dissolving into stretched vocal drones that disappear into the frozen sky. It’s the place where it all began, but after such a visceral journey where all that we usually hide is laid bare, we don’t need to stay here any longer. The spaces may look the same, but the air within has changed.

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