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It has been five long years since Cape Noire unconspicuously released her “Ad Nauseam” debut on an unsuspecting world. We had just about given up on ever hearing something from the enigmatic Paris, France electro/triphop diva again until “Javel” (French for ‘bleach’) quite unexpectedly turned up in our social media feed. A lot can (and will) happen in five years and just when we thought Cape Noire had retired her cape to the vestiaire she strikes back with “Javel”. Just like its illustrious predecessor “Javel” is 5 tracks or about 15 minutes of smooth, catchy triphop with a pulsating electro bend. One French newspaper dubbed her “gothic electronic” in 2015 and that is perhaps the most accurate way of describing what Cape Noire sounds like in lieu of actually hearing her yourself. There are worse ways of spending 15 minutes than in company of Parisian fashion icon Cape Noire.

For the last couple of years we feared that the curtain had fallen over Cape Noire. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. The mysterious blackcaped musician returns with “Javel” after a 5-year exile. Just like on “Ad Nauseam” the question on everybody’s mind is, “who is Cape Noire?” and the answer is obvious and evident to those in the know. What is certain is that Cape Noire is a versatile and experienced performer who has been a mainstay in the French pop – and rock world at least since the early 2000s. As a musician Cape Noire has tried her hand at a multitude of genres before taking on her current alter ego. That Cape Noire even extended beyond the initial “Ad Nauseam” EP is cause for celebration in and of itself. “Javel” builds upon the aura of mystique of the debut and cements that Cape Noire is one of the most fascinating new voices in the world of electro, industrial, and triphop. Cape Noire is the sound of the future…

In case there’s any doubt “Javel” sounds like an illicit lovechild between “Pretty Hate Machine” Nine Inch Nails, Kosheen circa “Resist” with bluesy vocals à la KT Tunstall. It’s amazing just how close to Sian Evans that Cape Noire sounds. Now even moreso than on “Ad Nauseam”. Instantly laying waste to any doubts opening track ‘The Prey’ has a bouncing beat and reassures that “Javel” is a continuation from the first EP. ‘Till It’s Over’ borrows not only part of the title but also a chorus line from Lenny Kravitz’ ‘It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over’. ‘Geometric Love’ opens with a romantic piano sure to make you think Cape Noire is going to get her Vanessa Carlton or Tori Amos on. ‘Kiss Of the Virgin’ strays the widest from anything Cape Noire has done previously. Only after almost 2 minutes of just piano and vocals the drum machine kicks in. It’s the closest thing to an actual ballad you’re likely to hear from Cape Noire. Just like “Ad Nauseam” before it “Javel” is catchy, soulful, and danceable. There are the occassional darker moments and melodies, but things never get as harrowing, dissonant, and ungentle as, say, Chu Ishikawa but neither does “Javel” ever succumb to forcing itself into any subdued pop hooks present just below the surface .

So far Cape Noire has persisted with the EP format but we’d love to hear what she could come up with the ebbs and flow within the context of a full album. At the quarter of an hour “Javel” is over before you know it. If we were to split hairs it could be noted that the piano doesn’t feature quite as prominently as it did on the first EP. The vocals on the last two tracks are somewhat more nasally than in the first three. The production is virtually identical to that of “Ad Nauseam” but everything is a little fuller and warmer sounding. If “Javel” is testament to anything, it’s that Cape Noire is more comfortable in her niche. “Javel” possesses a great focus and the hooks are catchier than ever before. For those who keep track of such things, the artwork of both EPs is identical – except that the dominant color on “Ad Nauseam” was black whereas here it is white. We wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Cape Noire ends up ghostwriting for other Francophone artists (we’d love to hear what she could write for Jamie-Lee Smit, for example) and we’d love to hear Cape Noire tackle dub techno, progressive electronic, or even ambient. Hell, we’d love a Cape Noire piano-pop record. It would probably sound something like “Rabbits On the Run” or “Liberman”, and that’d be wickedly awesome.

We’re looking forward to hearing in whatever direction Cape Noire decides to move from here. It would be interesting to hear what she could come up within the full album format or whether she’s going to perservere with EPs for the time being. It’s good having Cape Noire back after a five-year hiatus and it remains a question for the ages why the mainstream hasn’t picked up on her yet. Cape Noire would go over well over alternative festivals, high-end dance temples, as well as goth clubs. The beauty of Cape Noire is that there’s something for everybody. “Javel” was very much worth the five-year wait but we can only hope that Cape Noire will return sooner rather than later with the follow-up. A release like this only intensifies the mystique surrounding Cape Noire and her music. Whether her insistence on anonymity is a boon or a bane to the overall enjoyment of her music is entirely up to the individual listener. Good having you back, Cape Noire.

Actress. Activist. Influencer. YouTube celebrity. Filmmaker. Screenwriter. Model. Nudist. Playboy Playmate. Now add MCing to the ever-growing list of credentials of rags to riches entrepreneur Stormi Maya, the curvaceous wonder of nature from New York for whom no challenge is ever too great. On “Body Of Work” Maya teams up with producer Donald Robinson Cole (or Megadon) and is a quarter of an hour long throwback to some of the smoothest 80s and 90s hiphop nostalgia. The EP boasts two potential hit singles and has some of the catchiest beats of recent memory. Not only is Stormi Maya glib and easy to look at, her clever lyrics cut fast and deep. There's far more to this girl than a wealthy chest and ever-shrinking pieces of fabric. After having bared her body, Stormi Maya now bares her soul.

Who is Stormi Maya? She’s a multi-talented, clothing averse bombshell from the Bronx of mixed Hispanic-Irish descent that started modeling at the tender age of sixteen and cut her teeth in community theaters in the New York area. From there she reinvented herself as a YouTube celebrity and Instagram babe. In no time Stormi Maya was setting the internet alight with her bikini and lingerie pictures. Naturally Playboy followed and her October 2015 spread was such a raving success in the Croatian, Venezuelan and Slovenian editions that Playboy publishing barely was able to meet the demand in what has been called the fastest turnaround in the magazine’s history. One thing led to another and before long Stormi Maya was directing her own shorts and writing her own screenplays. Together with fellow model Alanna Forte, Stormi Maya is one of the regulars in the stock company from Californian fringe filmmaker Rene Perez. More recently she could be seen in the Spike Lee Netflix series She’s Gotta Have It. In short, Stormi Maya is a self-made woman who’s constantly looking to branch out. It’s only logical that after modeling and acting, a music career would be the next big thing.

If there’s one thing that Stormi undeniably is, it’s fun. She's one ambitious, fiercely intelligent, hard partyin' piece of eye candy. Like early Eminem she’ll poke fun at anyone and anything just because she can. Alliterative opener ‘Conscious Coochie’ is a club banger laced with porn samples that would make Gorgasm and Lividity proud. Don’t be confused by the persisting sampled moans as Stormi discusses her sexuality and prowess in the sack. In ‘Fake Ass Titties’, the EP’s tour de force and crowning achievement, Stormi candidly admits that she likes “big ass titties like everyone else.” The earworm chorus hammers the point home in case anybody was otherwise distracted. Maya is a woman clearly comfortable in her own skin and what better call for more body positivity than from a model that famously bared hers? ‘Thick Skin’ chronicles her experiences with celebritydom, cyberbullying and the darker side of fan culture. ‘Mouth Do’ is an eloquent protest against the entrenched but still socially accepted male behavior of catcalling, something in dire need of changing. ‘Aphro Puff’ is a seething scorcher that puts detractors that question her blackness in place. Nothing is more powerful than a woman unafraid to voice exactly what’s on her chest. Hers is even legendary in her own time.

Maya’s lyrics are thick on sexual innuendo and full of tacky witticisms and asides that recall the best of Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown. Stormi is rightly indignant about a lot of things but none of her raps are overly vulgar or full of gratuitous expletives. In 'Mouth Do' and 'Aphro Puff' the few strategically placed F-bombs hit with untold power and surgical precision. Stormi Maya is an outspoken feminist and that's exactly what the hiphop world needs right now. In these times of #metoo “Body Of Work” is a natural and timely response against everything from toxic masculinity, to the recent allegations leveled at Hollywood moguls Harvey Weinstein and Luc Besson but especially in light of Ke$ha’s protracted court battle against her producer Dr. Luke, one that almost ended costing her her livelihood. Nothing on “Body Of Work” is left to the imagination, from the artwork to the music videos and the lyrics – everything is there for a reason. It’s all part of a larger plan. In just a scant 16 minutes Stormi Maya touches upon everything from sex-positive feminism, bodylove, social – and economic inequalities, to celebrity culture and the patriarchy. How often does a debut coincide with recent events? Not all that often.

This being an EP Stormi lets not a single second go to waste and given how brief “Body Of Work” is, it's free of needless intros, interludes, commercial breaks, and random sonic asides that clutter up albums in this genre. Brevity is Maya’s greatest ally. 5 songs, 16 minutes. It’s enough to whet anyone’s appetite as to what she'd able to cook up in a full album format. A full Stormi Maya album is only a matter of time at this point. Her collaboration with Megadon has resulted in an unbelievably smooth production ensuring that this could be picked up by radio channels across the world. As a general rule we’d don’t ofen venture out of comfort zone when it comes to music, but Stormi Maya has massive cross-market appeal. It’s the perfect antithesis to what passes as hiphop these days. For a throwback to 80s and 90s hiphop you could do far worse. That this EP comes from a small independent artist makes it all the better. Hopefully Stormi Maya will be returning with a follow-up to this debut EP sooner rather than later.