Review: Kučka, ‘Unconditional’

Eight months ago, Perth-based producer/singer/songwriter Kučka, real name Laura Jane Lowther, released her single Divinity. Though she already had a following with her previously released music, Divinity swept the country by storm, getting smashed on all major radio stations and even getting a remix EP with reworks by Mazde and Milwaukee Banks. The last eight months have seen her playing shows all around the country, featuring on tracks by the likes of Cosmo’s Midnight and Andrei Eremin, and now, releasing her second EP, Unconditional.

Unconditional is the product of the last year of Kučka material. Some of the EP seems so familiar, because it’s been getting so much airtime, but it never gets boring or predictable. The seven-track release kicks off, of course, with Divinity – a perfect opening track both for new and old fans of her work. Listeners unfamiliar with her other work are automatically familiar with her biggest release, and older fans get a nostalgia trip before being shown what she’s been up to.

While her first release over three years ago, titled Kučka debut EP, largely focused on her production, this EP is completely dominated by her vocals, with her production merely being a vehicle to transport her voice. I spent a good long while trying to come up with the perfect way to phrase how the EP makes you feel, and I realised that Unconditional is music to float to. The thick, warm sounding synths, the percussion that can switch up from mega slow to jumpy and frantic, and of course Kučka’s vocals that lure you off your feet like the smell of a cartoon pie. That’s not to say that this isn’t stuff to dance to. Though I definitely prefer closely listening to the layers upon layers in each of the tracks, it’s so groovy. It’s music to throw your hands in the air to.

Though on her first EP her voice sounds largely unchanged, on Unconditional it’s always layered on top of itself, bent in some way and sounding so soothingly and hauntingly breathy. It shows her development not only as a musician and producer, but also in the maturing of her vocal style. While her voice is gorgeous on every song, the title track of the EP (which she first released over a year ago), Unconditional, is where her singing shines brightest. Super minimal production makes obvious the contrast between this and the other songs on the EP, with her voice being almost completely un-altered. The lyrics too completely draw you into her serenade, Kučka saying that she wants to stay up late and not say goodnight too soon. It’s beautiful music, plain and simple, and it’s so hard not to fall in love with her, let alone her voice.

She bounces off her production so easily, often using her voice entirely as an instrument and sample to drive that production. Speaking of production, she’s stepped up her game in a big way since her last release. There’s no part in any track that feels like it doesn’t belong there, with each sound and beat serving a purpose. The final track of the EP, Recovery, is largely about her production, and it’s one of the most interesting to listen to. Switching from light and soft at the beginning, to dark and eerie to finish is an impressive transformation to listen to. At five minutes, it’s a movement rather than a track, and shows how far she’s come instrumentally as well as vocally.

The balance between vocals and instrumentals is almost perfect on this EP – it’s just so consistent, and really feels like she’s found her voice. With so much national attention already, even before this EP, I’m sure that Unconditional will mean even bigger and better things for Kučka. Hopefully we’ll be seeing even bigger collaborations, more releases, and more development of her sound in the very near future – it’ll be really exciting to watch her grow even more.

Cop Unconditional here.