Released - July 2021
Label - Art of Attitude
'While You Were Sleeping...' presents a retrospective account of a project that has had time to marinate. This week sees us returning to Toronto artist Rowena Fysx's debut EP, '3rr0r'
Rowena Fysx has emerged within the midst of Canadian artists who have made fantastic careers off of a rich singular sound. Currently, Toronto specifically has a prominent stronghold on love-struck, dreamy R&B and for artists like Rowena who exist in the margins, it is painfully necessary to invent unique ways to garner attention. On debut EP '3rr0r' however, Fysx makes the case that she has little concerns in this regard, having effortlessly within 5 brief tracks masterfully invoked a mood and a presence few of her more established peers can sit within comfortably.
Amidst blankets of reverb, introverted performances and melancholic progressions, '3rr0r' sweeps seductively through the spirit, plunging and submerging you into a pool of emotive desire. The tasteful mixes invoke the surreal introspection of a 2-way mirror, as her gently confessional poetic melodies subtly taunt the soul.
"How much skin do I have to strip to get to the realest layer of myself?"
On third track 'Onion,' expertly composed and performed harmonies gently accentuate a tragic tale of disconnect from the self, with production credits going to little known but absurdly talented Jieyl Rodrigo, who incidentally co-wrote the entirety of the project. The genius of this collaboration is best exemplified on dimly lit weighty fourth track 'Zion' that invokes curling opium scented smoke accentuating a tale of adoration, exaltation, romance and heartache utilising the natural spaciousness of midi string bass, electric piano and drums as a foundation for nothing more than Rowena’s singular vocal and blushing harmonies. They keep the mood as tactile and velvety as their peers, but find a new path to reach it from, creating an isolated and starbound sound that is nothing short of genuine jazz balladry.
‘3rr0r’ is undeniably flawless and awe inspiring. It's such a soft, singular listen that over its thirteen minutes its only downfall is that of being too beautiful, leading us to imagine how many cards this artist may actually be holding. On a spiritual level, it's nice to see that she isn't looking to make a gigantic early-career statement and whilst I ponder what an arena-ready Rowena Fysx could sound like, she's not willing to give me even a glimpse. What she does give however, is transportative, addictively immersive R&B songs that empathize with life’s woes and love’s intoxications.
Not a second of '3rr0r' is unoriginal, and yet second track 'IDFK' uniquely satisfies everything fundamental to today's R&B narcotized; a full-body high that lingers in the mind in a fashion I'm stunned hasn't been utilized before. The project concludes with title track ‘3rr0r’ introducing occasional skittish rhythms and swaying canon harmonies that tilt the balance of the project. It's a rare glimpse into the truly dark and surreal world Fysx could inhabit, one that requires considerable depth in order to place yourself within, forcing you to explore it all.
You can take your first hit of '3rr0r' in the span of a lunch break, yet there’s so much more to uncover after and it means everything for Fysx's future. She has an extremely sturdy and radiant platform to begin from with ‘3rr0r’ and is using this EP to get her name to an audience outside her small Toronto music scene, and with songs this inviting and mutually beneficial for herself and the listener, there's no way that plan could fail.