I’ve heard songs from Trickyneko on and off for a bit. Classified as an ambient and electronic pop artist, Trickyneko definitely harnesses these elements on Undersurface, her second full length after The Night Of All Seasons. Released in 2019, Undersurface came out during a surge of electronic music, which is why I missed the album. Combing to the album in 2021, Undersurface has a timeless quality that uses the electronic elements and her haunting vocals to great success.
The nine song album doesn’t have a single track less than three minutes long. Even with that length, every track feels like it comes and goes quickly. The tempos are slow and the melodies are atmospheric. From the start with “Blue Hole,” Trickyneko offers an operatic quality in composition and arrangement. Piano keyboards play a big foundational element in her music. The vocals are both supplemented by the piano and also carry a conversation through the song verse.
“Up & Down” has a slow burn that moves deliberately from start to finish. Songs don’t have a customary high-intensity bridge and operate in the same tone as the rest of the song, but that gives each track the ability to blend without needing a huge call out. It’s almost strange to consider Trickyneko a full-fledged electronic artist because electronic samples and synth play a larger supporting role than connecting the main piano and vocal melodies. It’s like listening to an ambient ballad mixed with electronic highlights. The space that Undersurface uses is as important as the audible sounds.
The album title is perfect because it does feel like you’re floating right under the surface of reality. It’s like you can touch the surface tension, but the songs are firmly holding you in place in a stasis. The instrumentals keep you buoyant and the vocals wrap around your ears like a current. The style could get repetitive for some people who need more dynamic audio.
Trickyneko isn’t passive in engaging her vocals, but there’s a very deliberate choice of vocals on every song. “Not Ok” presents Trickyneko with English vocals and it works identically to her Korean vocals. The track also feels like a companion soundtrack song to an epic slow-motion scene.
Undersurface is a different audio experience. Trickyneko embodies the ambient and electronic world on the album and her careful composition creates and develops a very specific listener experience. There’s much to enjoy on the album especially for electronic music fans, but can bridge to other music genres easily.