From the Beach Boys to Peter Brown, from Enigma to Shikhee—a Bangladeshi young woman who records, mostly solo, as “Android Lust”—the bedroom, cubicle, and closet have generated a free-roaming style of musical intimacy. In it, interior-minded young people vent their wants, passions, dreams, and fears (and the rhythms of each), an intimacy different from that of romantic crooners but no less revealing. Vince Aletti, writing about Enigma’s Michael Cretu in these pages, has called this “good vibrations” music. Vibrations? The term suggests something disembodied: a buzz sent from afar, an orchestral impressionism surrounding or propping up a diffuse center. So it is with The Dividing, Shikhee’s debut CD. The center of it is Shikhee’s voice—a tiny soprano shriek, icy in tone. A mouse of a voice, hiding in its hole in the wall.
As it happens, Shikhee’s hole is “darkwave,” a techno-influenced adaptation of gothic rock. What she lacks in verbal luster, she compensates for by draping her angst in velvet in some of darkwave’s catchiest and least derivative instrumental work. Shikhee moves from overwrought dirge to dark drollery to the scruffy techno; from light soul music to ticklish electronica to funky metalism. Then, finally, to a harsh, Einstürzende-like industrial she calls “Sex and Mutilation,” and the sad end entitled “Burn.” It all works, because her rodent screech bonds with none of these styles, and jars them all. She and they do a kind of tango of desire and venom. At times she sounds like Tori Amos at her most feral; at others like Alanis Morrisette feasting on anger. But mostly Shikhee sounds uniquely abandoned, her life a lemon on which she revenges herself by making musical lemonade. Complete with all the sourness, saliva, and pucker.