GUAP reviews Tora-i’s genre blending and impactful second EP ‘& what else?’…

There are no small expectations when it comes to Tora-i. For those who are blessed enough to be familiar with the creative avenues she has traversed, there remains an impressively high bar set in place by the impact of her debut EP ‘Cavalier’ and the growing list of iconic names that circle into supporting her, including Snoh Aalegra and Omar Apollo.

For her second EP ‘& what else?’ she decided to take the same bar and push it up a few notches further. The seven-track project stands as a masterclass in musical cohesion, a captivating combination of beautifully crafted pacing and symphonies of interconnected melodies. Leading in with a bed of scratching guitar on ‘17suns’ Tora-i introduces a delicate tension that weaves throughout the project, the kind that almost leaves your head spinning. This lays the groundwork for what’s to come next, ‘Crystalline’, which is without a doubt the star of the show. The themes of personal re-birth that drew this EP into reality are present in abundance here and become infused with her lifting and emotionally all-encompassing vocal range.

It’s been said that Tora-i isn’t too fond of being bound by genre and ‘& what else’ makes it distinctly clear why this creative perspective works in her favour. Merging synths, electronic influences, raw instrumentals and guitar plucking, what remains at the centre of her sound is a deeply authentic expression of character. One that demands all of the complexities and freedoms that are required in creative fluidity. ‘Crystalline’ gives way to ‘Serial’, leading the energy to something more defiant and intricate. This kind of contrasting layering, the feeling of defiance placed against the softness of her tone, is the mark of a sophisticated musician. It’s a skill to do one thing very well, it becomes art when the conversation expands and draws in divergent perspectives to make something entirely raw and new, this is precisely what Tora-i manifests in ‘& what else’.

’00folklore’ nestles in your heart, enveloping it in lyrical light touches that strike directly. As the track progresses, it becomes more and more stripped back, until you’re left with her, you, and her guitar. In contrast, ‘Hip Dips’ acts as an interlude, where the melody plays around the warbling vocals, evoking memories of dewy, carefree, and fresh-faced mornings. ’10months’ takes a different tone altogether and is the most wrenching of the songs, a composition that belongs in a big concert hall to truly do it justice. It screams a tear-stained end of a night out. Finally, ‘Palace’ concludes the album on a lively note, like bringing all the pieces of self back together. ‘& what else?’ Is an exceptional example of what Tora-i has to offer to the world of music, a testament to her skilful layering of contradictory elements as she pushes the boundaries of musical expression that leave a profound and lasting impact.

listen to the full project below:

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