There’s always been a part of Eartheater that feels mythical. The experimental multi-instrumentalist — who was born Alexandra Drewchin — continues to put out songs that embody musical freedom and staggering imagination. Her music is fluid and alluring, and on her latest album, Powders, which arrives Sept. 20 on her own Chemical X label, she’s once again taking new shapes. “Initially, I had rules set for Aftermath, my next album, but the songs on Powders unfolded in their own accord,” Eartheater tells AP. “I had absolutely no rules with Powders. The songs chose me — I didn’t choose them.” Not only is there more pleasure in pop, as her vocals bubble toward the front of the mix, rather than being obscured by texture, but she’s also unafraid to lay her influences bare, like her fascination with System of a Down.
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On her latest single, a cover of “Chop Suey!” that’s out today, she adopts a delicacy that mutates the nü-metal thrasher into an eerie folktale. The band’s music has long been part of her world, citing “the guitar work, the harmonies, and, overall, the songwriting” as pieces of their craft that resonated deeply. “My brother downloaded System of a Down’s full discography on Napster when I was in my sophomore year of high school,” she explains. “I was obsessed with the song, especially singing the harmonies.”
In a sense, Eartheater’s heel turn is magnetic, culminating in one of the record’s most intimate performances. Serj Tankian’s volcanic delivery is replaced with a hallucinatory hush that urges listeners to lean their heads in a little closer. She cradles the verses, stretching the qualities that made the original so haunting. Perhaps that’s why the whole track feels as if there’s a jump scare skulking around the corner. Instead, as the track weaves in string arrangements that could pass for a lullaby, the song detonates with a drum crescendo that ends the cover on a high note — and makes good on her devotion to the 2001 ripper. “This song has existed in my life longer than any song that I have written; I’ve been singing this song since I first heard it,” she reveals.
Collaboration is the lifeblood of Powders, as Eartheather tapped a slew of producers to lend their magic across the record’s nine songs. The LP is nourished by additional minds, from Sega Bodega and Yves Rothman to Elliott Kozel and Kiri Stensby, who produced “Chop Suey!,” among others. “More than anything, I’m so grateful for their trust in me,” she says. “Their ability to streamline my ideas was very empowering and helped me deliver a stronger album. The intimacy and clarity that you feel in ‘Chop Suey’ is a testament to my long-time relationship working with Kiri and how we know each other so well. She knows exactly how to record my vocals in a crystalline way.” It’s an impressive feat, one that marries pop smarts with sleek production that promises Eartheater will remain an unpredictable force, whether or not you’re a fan of nü metal.