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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.

In the last couple of years Göthenburg-based Nachtlieder, the studio project conceptualized by multi-instrumentalist, part-time yogini and natural born philosopher Dagny Susanne, has established itself as one of the most potent and distinct new voices in the Swedish black metal pantheon. Her third album “Lynx” fully delivers on the promise that 2015’s loosely conceptual “The Female of the Species” only hinted at. While her 2013 debut was serviceable in the very least, it didn't leave much of an impression on this scribe. On “The Female of the Species” Nachtlieder truly transformed into a distinct entity with its own recognizable vision and voice. “Lynx” builds, but also expands and deepens, upon that foundation and sees Dagny elevating her songwriting to a higher creative plateau. “Lynx” has Susanne at her most bloodcurdingly predatory and perhaps now more than any time before is Nachtlieder red of tooth and claw.

On the whole we’ve always been fairly ambivalent at best and completely indifferent at worst to Swedish black metal as a genre. There are records that we unequivocally love. “Summon the Beast” from the Hypocrisy side-project The Abyss, “The Secrets Of the Black Arts” from Dark Funeral, the first few Marduk albums, “The Somberlain” and “Storm Of the Light’s Bane” by Dissection (who we’ve always considered more of an epic heavy/thrash metal band than an outright black metal one) and selected works from Setherial, the the grandmasters of imitation and derivation, such as “Nord”, “Hell Eternal” or “Endtime Divine” and “Vittra” from Naglfar. The post-David Parland releases from Dark Funeral, the shortlived more death metal tinged The Legion, and the numerous more smaller hordes that persist in the underground have not helped in swaying us to stay current with what’s happening in the scene. Over the course of a decade and now three albums deep into her career Dagny Susanne has proven that she’s persistently deadlier than the male. Nachtlieder is the kind of project to breath new life into a stagnant and regressive genre without the need of a gimmick or being overly innovative.

The lynx has largely been associated with awareness, ability, balance, and change. It is a symbol of knowledge, clairvoyance, and wisdom. Across cultures (Greek, Norse, North American and Asian, among others) and times the lynx has borne silent witness to the foils and follies of humankind and is widely considered an often nigh on invisible sage of secrets both corporeal and ethereal living in great solitude and isolation. In medicine the lynx symbolizes sharp senses. Much like the titular felines an air of mystery surrounds Susanne who has revealed herself as a woman of many interests. It greatly speaks to her sense of individuality and independence that she continues to explore themes and subjects relating to the female experience. Susanne is not a woman to be pigeonholed to a convenient genre tag and with each subsequent offering Nachtlieder continues to expand into grander, ever more ambitious concepts. While Nachtlieder’s 2013 debut didn’t leave much of an impression other than being an extremely capable exercise of the form her subsequent album(s) have shown her as an agile musician and composer. Nachtlieder wouldn’t be what it is without the loyal services of studio drummer Martrum and on “Lynx” he too delivers another stellar performance. The synergy between Dagny and Martrum is one of the project’s strongest features.

Nachtlieder has never been about inhuman speed (leave that to Setherial and their ilk) and much of Susanne’s songwriting is reminiscent of Enslaved (circa “Hordanes Land”) and early Immortal records as “Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism” and “Pure Holocaust”. Instead of the more Nordic inclinations of her possible inspirations “Lynx” sounds clinically aggressive without that it ever regresses into gratuitous Norsecore blasts (something which Belgian horde Enthroned was often prone to early on) and atmospheric meanderings that serve no larger purpose. As much as the bass guitar is often dealt a cruel hand in most metal productions regardless of their size on “Lynx” it can be heard clearly. The string instruments contribute equally to the compositions and while the bass guitar never quite gets to weave any lead melodies its constantly throbbing pulse is essential for Nachtlieder to arrive at its distinct sound. By and large “Lynx” goes for a more primal and churning epic midpace than the more conventionally speed-oriented excursions from “The Female of the Species”. The primordially crawling, eerie melodies amplify Dagny’s rasping growl. Which doesn’t diminish in any way from tracks as ‘Law Of Decay’ that completely kill with their speed. The duo of ‘Eyes Ablaze’ and ‘Moksha’ conclude “Lynx” on a majestic dark note. Like the ferocious felines of the title Nachtlieder is both elegant and cunning in its assault.

An illustration from John Bauer isn’t typically something you’d expect of a black metal band, especially not in the light of the assorted works of Gustav Doré and Jannicke Wiese-Hansen more or less being standards of the form. “Lynx” avoids the usual monochrome canvasses by using a piece from Bauer as its artwork. The illustration in question is "Guldnycklarna" (Gold Keys) from 1915 that figured into "Bland tomtar och troll" (Among gnomes and trolls), an annual collection of fairytales for children that was first saw publication in 1907. A variety of authors wrote for "Bland tomtar och troll" and Bauer contributed illustrations every year until his death with the exception of 1911. The collection steered domestic children’s literature in a new direction by incorporating themes from folk songs into the various fairytales. After Bauer other illustrators followed among them Gustaf Tenggren and from 1927 to 1980 Einar Norelius with Hans Arnold following in his footsteps. Notable authors contributing to the tome include Hjalmar Bergman, Margareta Ekström, Gösta Knutsson, Severin Schiöler and Edith Unnerstad.

Eine kleine Nachtmusik might be Mozart's most enduring composition and Nachtlieder is the last thing you'd associate with fairytales and nursery rhymes there's something about Dagny's songwriting and her strong sense of individuality that easily places it among the classic bands of her genre. On “The Female of the Species” Susanne already showcased her uncanny ability to compose fully conceptualized pieces better than most of her peers in traditionally staffed constellations. In many ways Nachtlieder is the Scandinavian counterpart to Mediterreanean outfit Melencolia Estatica, the Italian project spearheaded by vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Serena Nardin. If there's something to be said about Nachtlieder as a band and Susanne as a person it's that she will go out of her way to avoid any cliché inherent to her craft. That truly is her greatest forté. Now that the "Lynx" is free to stalk its prey we can only wonder what Dagny will come up with next. It'd be interesting to see her take on the various female apparitions of Asian mythology (such as the ghosts of Chinese folklore or the Indian nagin, the snake spirits, to name two popular examples). If there's anything the metal scene at large needs it's visionaries. People like Susanne are vital. Suss isn't just kvlt, she's kvte too.